Roger Tsien celebrates his 60th birthday on February 1st. Tsien was the winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008 for his work on the green fluorescent protein, GFP, which is used to track where and when a target gene is expressed, either in a cell or in an organism. Tsien showed that GFP could be engineered through amino acid substitutions and changes in the functional portion of the chromophore to give variants where the main peak of the excitation spectrum of wild type GFP was shifted from the UV to the blue part of the spectrum. This has allowed the development of a universal “tool box” of genetic tags for studies of dynamic processes in living systems.
Roger Tsien was born in New York, USA. He studied chemistry and physics at Harvard University, USA, before moving to Cambridge University, UK, for his Ph.D. in physiology. He remained at Cambridge for a postdoctoral fellowship from 1977–1981. He was appointed to the faculty at University of California, Berkeley, USA, in 1982. In 1989, Tsien moved to the University of California, San Diego, USA, where he is currently an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Professor of Pharmacology, and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
- Constructing and Exploiting the Fluorescent Protein Paintbox (Nobel Lecture),
R. Y. Tsien,
Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2009, 48(31), 5612–5626.