(1941 - )
Alfred Goodman Gilman was born on July 1, 1941, in
New Haven, Connecticut.
Gilman graduated from Yale with his B.S. of Biochemistry
in 1962. He then entered a M.D.-Ph.D. program at Case
Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio where
he studied under Nobel laurate Earl Sutherland. Gilman
graduated from Case Western in 1969, then did his post-doctoral
studies at the National Institutes of Health with Nobel
laurate Marshall Nirenberg from 1969 until 1971.
In 1971 Dr. Gilman became a professor at the University
of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In 1981, he beame chairman of the Department of Pharmacology
at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
in Dallas, Texas. He was elected as a member of the
National Academy of Sciences in 1986. In addition to
the Nobel Prize, he won the Albert Lasker Award for
Basic Medical Research in 1989.
He shared the 1994 Nobel
Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Martin
Rodbell for their discoveries regarding G-proteins.
G-proteins are a vital intermediary between the activation
of receptors on the cell membrane and actions within
the cell. Rodbell had shown in the 1960s that GTP was
involved in cell signaling. It was Gilman who actually
discovered the protiens that interacted with the GTP
to initiate signalling cascades within the cell.
The following press release from the Royal Swedish
Academy of Sciences describes Gilman's work:
It has been known for some time that cells communicate
with each other by means of hormones and other signal
substances, which are released from glands, nerves and
other tissues. It is only recently that we have begun
to understand how the cell handles this information
from the outside and converts it into relevant action
- i.e. how signals are transduced in cells.
The discoveries of the G-proteins by the Americans
Alfred G. Gilman and Martin Rodbell have been of paramount
importance in this context, and have opened up a new
and rapidly expanding area of knowledge.
G-proteins have been so named because they bind guanosine
triphosphate (GTP). Gilman and Rodbell found that G-proteins
act as signal transducers, which transmit and modulate
signals in cells. G-proteins have the ability to activate
different cellular amplifier systems. They receive multiple
signals from the exterior, integrate them and thus control
fundamental life processes in the cells.
Disturbances in the function of G-proteins - too much
or too little of them, or genetically determined alterations
in their composition - can lead to disease. The dramatic
loss of salt and water in cholera is a direct consequence
of the action of cholera toxin on G-proteins. Some hereditary
endocrine disorders and tumours are other examples.
Furthermore, some of the symptoms of common diseases
such as diabetes or alcoholism may depend on altered
transduction of signals through G-proteins