Osamu Shimomura (1928–2018)

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  • Author: ChemViews Magazine
  • Published Date: 23 October 2018
  • Copyright: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA
thumbnail image: Osamu Shimomura (1928–2018)

Professor Osamu Shimomura, Nagasaki, Japan, passed away on October 19, 2018.

Professor Shimomura received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008 together with Roger Tsien and Martin Chalfie "for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein (GFP)". GFP is used to track where and when a gene is expressed in a cell or in an organism. This can be done by fusing the respective gene with the gene for GFP and detecting the emitted light. Shimomura isolated GFP from the jellyfish Aequorea victoria in the 1960s. He also found that it glowed green when illuminated with ultraviolet light.


Osamu Shimomura, born on August 27, 1928, in Fukuchiyama, Japan, was awarded a BS degree in pharmacy from the College of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Nagasaki Medical College (now Nagasaki University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences) in 1951. Till 1955, he was a lab assistant there, became an assistant to Professor Yoshimasa Hirata at Nagoya University in 1956, and received a MS degree in organic chemistry in 1958, and his Ph.D. in 1960. He then moved to Princeton University, NJ, USA, to study the jellyfish Aequorea victoria. In 1981, Shimomura moved to the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), Woods Hole, MA, USA, as a senior scientist until retiring in 2001.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Professor Shimomura received, among many other honors, the Asahi prize, one of the most prestigious prizes in Japan, in 2006, and the Pearse Prize from the Royal Microscopical Society, UK, in 2004.


Image: Prolineserver, CC BY-SA 4.0, from Wikimedia Commons

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