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Linda Buck

posted Jan 1, 2015, 11:24 AM by   [ updated Jul 19, 2019, 10:47 PM by Upali Salpadoru ]

  Linda B Buck.
        Birth:-   1947 -

 Fig.1 Linda receiving the Nobel Prize from His Majesty King Carl Gustaf XVI .

  It was well known that the smells, as fragrance from flowers and yummy flavours of food are sensed by the receptors situated in the nasal cavity. When these are stimulated, electrical signals are sent to the brain. 
  What Dr. Linda achieved was to unfold the molecular structure of the irritants and the receptors. 
  She also demonstrated how the impulses are sent to the olfactory bulb for the brain to interpret as different smells 
  The Swedish academy honoured her by awarding the Nobel medal for medicine and a donation of $1.3 million in 2004.

   Birth:- 29/1/ 1947.

  Linda was born in a rural area in Washington to a Swedish mother and an Irish father.  She was the second of three sisters.  They lived with the nature, climbing hills, hiking through the forest and enjoying the sea. While her mother invented word puzzles her father, who was an electrical engineer, taught her the use of power tools. She believes that her parents’ interest in intellectual activities may have paved the way for her to be a scientist. 

  As a young girl she had an ordinary life, playing with dolls, music lessons and magical tales from her grandmother. They gave me self-confidence. My mother’s words were,” "Do not settle for something mediocre".  She entered the University of Washington. After considering many avenues she finally decided to be a biologist.

  1975, 28 yrs.

  She joined the Microbiology Department at the University of Texas Medical Center. She obtained her basic degree BS. For her finals she selected a project concerning lymphocytes. Her line of research is revealed in this statement. “In this work and much of my subsequent work, I thought in terms of molecules and the molecular mechanisms underlying biological systems, and sought to gain insight into those mechanisms in my experiments.”

 She moved to Columbia University in New York for her postdoctoral work.  Dr. Richard Axel had begun to work in the area of neuroscience several years earlier through collaboration with Eric Kandel, Their collaboration had focused on molecular studies of the nervous system of a sea snail. This was the model organism that Eric had used in many of his studies of learning and memory, for which he received a Nobel Prize in 2000.

1980   33 yrs.

 She earned er PhD in Immunology.

 1988  41 yrs,

Linda was fascinated by a paper she read about olfaction and according to her that altered her life. She asked, “How could humans detect 10,000 or more odorous chemicals?” This became persistent puzzle to her. She devised a two prong attack to solve this mystery.

1. Finding the relevant molecules in the smell receptors in the nose.

2. Learning how signals from the receptors are organized in the brain to disclose diverse odor perceptions.

Fig.2  Nasal cavity

1. Finding the Molecules in the odor receptors.

, Linda embarked on a search for odorant receptors, attached to Richard's lab. At the end she identified them. She was surprised by the presence of one hundred different odorant receptors in a rat, all related, but each one unique. The unprecedented size and diversity of this family explained the ability of mammals to detect a vast array of diverse chemicals as having distinct odors. 

  After three years of intensive research, Linda and Richard Axel published the identification of odorant receptors.

 1991 44 yrs.

   Linda became an Assistant professor in the Neurobiology Department at Harvard Medical School in Boston.  There she met Roger Brent whom she describes as, "A marvelous intellect and a fellow scientist who has been my partner and an important part of my life ever since.”

   She co authored a book along with Axel describing the experiments they performed with rats. According to them rats have over 1000 olfactory receptors while the humans merely have about 350.

2. How the brain decipher the signals from receptors.

Her next goal was to learn how signal s from those receptors are organized in the brain to differentiate odor perceptions. “I was joined in this endeavor by a series of excellent students and postdoctoral fellows. The discoveries cited by the Nobel Foundation were made over a period of ten years, during which I was a faculty member at Harvard.”

  On hearing the news of the Nobel award, Buck's first response was, "I can't believe it."  Mark Groudine described Buck's discoveries as, “A landmark achievement with major implications for the understanding of the nervous system — and cancer. It's from the fundamental mechanisms of how life works that we make the greatest advances in treating disease."

Fig.3. At the Nobel ceremony. Linda Buck with Richard Axel the other recipient on left

 Dr. Buck is also a Member of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an Affiliate Professor at the University of Washington. Her laboratory is studying how the brain translates myriad environmental chemicals into odor perceptions and behaviors. 

 They are also exploring the mechanisms that control aging and life span. They believe that there is some sort of a biology clock included in the physiology of our system that controls the ageing process.


She met scientist Roger Brent in 1994 


 She married in Roger Brent.