US-born scientists Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling our biological clocks.
The mechanisms help explain issues such as why people travelling long distances over several time zones often suffer jet lag and they have wider implications for health such as increased risk for certain diseases.
“[The three scientists’] discoveries explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronised with the Earth’s revolutions
The laureates used fruit flies to isolate a gene that controls the normal daily biological rhythm and showed how this gene encoded a protein that accumulates in the cell during the night and degrades during the day.
Medicine is the first of the Nobel Prizes awarded each year. The prizes for achievements in science, literature and peace were created in accordance with the will of dynamite inventor and businessman Alfred Nobel and have been awarded since 1901.
Nobel medicine laureates have included scientific greats such as Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin, and Karl Landsteiner, whose identification of separate blood types opened the way to carrying out safe transfusions.