The award of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Edward B. Lewis and Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard on Oct. 9 has again affirmed the strength of Columbia's Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize as a predictor of Nobel honors. Since Columbia first awarded the Horwitz in 1967, more than half its winners--31 of 53--have gone on to win the Nobel.
Given for outstanding contributions in biology or biochemistry, the Horwitz was presented in 1992 to Lewis, Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor Emeritus of Biology at California Institute of Technology, and Nüsslein-Volhard, director of developmental biology at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen, Germany.
Lewis and Nüsslein-Volhard, along with Eric F. Wieschaus, Squibb Professor in Molecular Biology at Princeton, shared this year's Nobel, worth $1 million, for their genetic studies of the fruit fly,drosophilia, to help unravel the secrets of how embryos develop from a single cell into complex anatomical structures. Their Nobel was awarded for work showing how genes tell the cells to specialize.
Thomas Hunt Morgan, professor of zoology at Columbia from 1904 to 1929, pioneered the use of drosophilia and himself won the Nobel Prize in 1933.
The fly has proved extraordinarily useful in genetics research because it is easy to grow, has huge chromosomes in the larval stage and has a short lifespan--10 days or fewer.
The Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize was established under the will of the late S. Gross Horwitz, in memory of his mother.
Columbia University Record -- October 20, 1995 -- Vol. 21, No. 7