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University Professor Richard Axel Accepts Nobel Prize
Richard Axel

Richard Axel, University Professor at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), accepted the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine at the Nobel banquet held Dec. 10 in Stockholm . Axel won the prize along with Linda B. Buck of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for clarifying how the olfactory system works. Buck was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia when she and Axel jointly published their fundamental paper on the subject in 1991.

The work of Axel and Buck provided understanding on how the nose is able to distinguish more than 10,000 distinct smells. The researchers discovered a gene pool of more than 1,000 different genes that encode olfactory receptors in the nose. This is believed to be the largest gene family in the human genome.

Axel is University Professor and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the College of Physicians & Surgeons; he is also an investigator at the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia and a member of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior at CUMC. He has been at Columbia University Medical Center his entire career and was an undergraduate at Columbia College .

Axel and Buck join a group of 70 other notable Columbians whose work has been recognized by the Nobel Foundation, including 19 in the category of physiology or medicine.

For a transcript of the acceptance speeches of both Axel and Buck, visit http://www.nobelprize.org/medicine/laureates/2004/axel-speech.html.

Published: Dec 16, 2004
Last modified: Jan 10, 2005

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