Günter Blobel (May 21, 1936 – February 18, 2018) was a Silesian German and American biologist and 1999 Nobel Prize laureate in Physiology for the discovery that proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and localization in the cell.
Günter Blobel at MPI-CBG symposium, November 2008
|Died||18 February 2018 (aged 81)|
|Citizenship||German and American|
|Alma mater||University of Kiel |
University of Tübingen (M.D.)
University of Wisconsin–Madison (Ph.D.)
|Known for||Protein targeting, gene gating hypothesis|
|Awards||NAS Award in Molecular Biology (1978)|
Richard Lounsbery Award (1983)
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1999)
Massry Prize (1999)
|Academic advisors||George Palade|
|Doctoral students||Peter Walter|
|Other notable students||David J. Anderson|
Günter Blobel was born in Waltersdorf in the Prussian Province of Lower Silesia, then located in eastern Germany. In January 1945 his family fled from native Silesia to Dresden to escape from the advancing Red Army. During the catastrophic bombing of Dresden, Blobel, then 8, stayed with his family at a relative's farm to the west of the city. After the war, Blobel grew up and attended gymnasium in the Saxon town of Freiberg. He studied medicine and graduated from the University of Tübingen in 1960. After two years service in a medical internship, he moved to Madison, Wisconsin, following an older brother, enrolling in the University of Wisconsin–Madison and, joining the lab of Van R. Potter for his graduate work. Blobel matriculated in 1967 with a Ph.D., then took up a professorship in microbiology at the University.
Blobel was appointed to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in 1986. Blobel was awarded the 1999 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of signal peptides. Signal peptides form an integral part of protein targeting, a mechanism for cells to direct newly synthesized protein molecules to their proper location by means of an "address tag" (i.e., a signal peptide) within the molecule.
Blobel died of cancer in Manhattan at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center on February 18, 2018 at the age of 81. By the time of his death, Blobel was described as having "ushered cell biology into the molecular age" through his work on the fractionation and reconstitution of functional protein complexes and sub-cellular components in vitro.
Blobel became well known for his direct and active support for the rebuilding of Dresden in Germany, becoming, in 1994, the founder and president of the nonprofit "Friends of Dresden, Inc." He donated all of the Nobel award money to the restoration of Dresden, in particular for the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche (completed in 2005) and the building of a new synagogue. In Leipzig he pursued a rebuilding of the Paulinerkirche, the university church of the University of Leipzig, which had been blown up by the communist regime of East Germany in 1968, arguing "this is a shrine of German cultural history, connected to the most important names in German cultural history."
Blobel lost his older sister to aerial bombing of a train she was on in 1945, shortly after the bombing of Dresden, while an older brother survived the war and became a veterinarian in the United States. Blobel worked at the Rockefeller University in New York City from 1968. He lived in Manhattan's Upper East Side with his wife, Laura Maioglio (owner of Barbetta). He was on the board of directors for Nestlé and the Board of Scientific Governors at The Scripps Research Institute. Furthermore, he was Co-Founder and Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for Chromocell Corporation. He sat on the Selection Committee for Life Science and Medicine which chooses winners of the Shaw Prize. Blobel had a passion for opera and architecture, in addition to his passion for experimental science.
- 1978: NAS Award in Molecular Biology
- 1982: Gairdner Foundation International Award
- 1983: Otto Warburg Medal
- 1983: Richard Lounsbery Award
- 1983: Member of the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina
- 1986: V. D. Mattia Award
- 1986: E.B. Wilson Medal
- 1986: Keith R. Porter Lecture
- 1987: Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University
- 1989: Waterford Bio-Medical Science Award
- 1992: Max Delbrück Medal
- 1993: Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research
- 1995: Ciba Drew Award in Biomedical Research
- 1996: King Faisal International Prize
- 1997: Mayor's Award for Excellence in Science and Technology
- 1999: Massry Prize from the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California
- 1999: Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
- 2001: Pontifical Academy of Sciences
- 2001: Pour le Mérite
- 2008: Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Science
- 2014: AACR Academy
- Simon, Sanford M. (5 April 2018). "Günter Blobel (1936–2018)". Cell. 173 (2): 278–280. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2018.03.047. PMC 6018020. PMID 29975496. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1999" (Press release). The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet. 11 October 1999.
The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet has today decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 1999 to Günter Blobel for the discovery that "proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and localization in the cell"
- "Nobelpreisträger Günter Blobel gestorben" [Nobel Prize winner Günter Blobel died]. Die Welt (in German). 19 February 2018. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- McFadden, Robert D, (19 February 2018). "Günter Blobel, Nobel Laureate Who Found Cell 'ZIP Codes,' Dies at 81". Obituaries. The New York Times. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- Perils of Paulinerkirche / Leipzig Debates Bid to Rebuild Church Razed by Communists National Public Radio 22 June 2003
- "History of Barbetta". Barbetta Restaurant. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- Gunter Blobel, M.D., Ph.D. / Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board Archived 2009-03-27 at the Wayback Machine
- "Otto-Warburg-Medal". GBM. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
- "List of Members". www.leopoldina.org. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
- Blobel's page at Rockefeller University
- Blobel's Nobel Prize autobiography
- Freeview video 'An Interview with Günter Blobel' by the Vega Science Trust
- Official site of the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize
- Information about Blobel as Distinguished German-American of the Year 2005 (German-American Heritage Foundation)