VVP Tony Hyman wins Breakthrough Prize
Congratulations to Vallee Visiting Professor Anthony Hyman who, along with Clifford Brangwynne, has won the 2023 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Until recently, it was thought that most of the work in a cell goes on in organelles – specialized subunits enclosed by membranes. But Anthony Hyman and Clifford Brangwynne discovered an entirely new physical principle that concentrates cellular interactions between proteins and other biomolecules, in the absence of membranes. They described dynamic liquid-like droplets that form rapidly by phase separation – similar to oil droplets forming in water – producing temporary structures protected from the molecular turmoil of the watery cell interior. Since their discovery, they and others have shown that these membraneless liquid condensates play a role in numerous cellular processes, including signalling, cell division, the nested structure of nucleoli in the cell nucleus, and the regulation of DNA. Their discovery is a fundamental advance in our understanding of cellular organization, and is likely to lead to clinical applications in the future, including for neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS. A short video about their achievement can be found here.