Congratulations to Nobel Prize Winners

October 5, 2004

Dear Fellow Columbian,

On behalf of the Columbia community, Dean Gerald D. Fischbach and I are honored to congratulate our colleague Dr. Richard Axel of the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and our former colleague Dr. Linda B. Buck of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center at the University of Washington on being awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.

Drs. Axel and Buck received the Nobel Prize for mapping the genes that govern the sense of smell and for determining how the brain processes olfactory information (of more than 10,000 different smells) into perception and memory. This achievement ranks among the greatest discoveries in brain science in the last 50 years. Thanks to their groundbreaking work, we have a better understanding of how we experience the world around us and convert those sensations into critical information about our environment.

Drs. Axel and Buck also embody the spirit of creativity that gives the university such immeasurable value and relevance to our world.

In many ways this is a true Columbia family celebration. Dr. Axel, University Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and of Pathology and Investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, is a graduate of Columbia College and has spent his entire professional career at Columbia. His colleague Dr. Buck was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia when she and Dr. Axel published their findings in 1991.

Please join me in congratulating Drs. Axel and Buck on this great honor and in thanking them for imparting their discovery to students, scholars, and the broader world. Their achievement adds to Columbia’s proud 250-year heritage and stands out among the many contributions Columbians continue to make through their dedicated research in science and medicine and so many other endeavors.

Lee C. Bollinger