Stanford professor shares Nobel Prize

A Stanford University professor has won the 2014 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced Wednesday.

William E. Moerner received the award in recognition of his work developing super-resolved fluorescence microscopy, which has helped make it possible for microscopes to peer inside living cells and visualize individual molecules at the nano level.

Moerner said in an interview with Nobelprize.org, speaking by phone from a conference in Brazil:

“I’m just totally thrilled. … I’m incredibly happy about the recognition of the field, especially of all the workers and all the scientists at many places around the world who have contributed to the effort.”

Moerner shares the prize with two other scientists whose work also contributed to the development of nanoscopy: Eric Betzig, from the Janelia Research Campus of Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Ashburn, Virginia, and Stefan W. Hell of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry and the German Cancer Research Center in Germany.

Each recipient shares one-third of the full prize, which is set at 8 million Swedish kronor, or about $1.1 million.

The three prize recipients, working separately, made advances that bypassed the previously understood optical limits of microscopes, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Nanoscopy is now used worldwide and allows scientists to observe molecules creating synapses between nerves of the brain and follow proteins involved in Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and Alzheimer’s diseases as they aggregate, according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.