What happened to Douglas Prasher?
The Nobel Prize strictly limits shared awards to three people.
In 2008, the Prize in chemistry was famously shared by Roger Tsien of the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Martin Chalfie at Columbia University, and the Marine Biological Laboratory’s Osama Shimomura for their work on the discovery and development of green fluorescent proteins (GFP).
The fourth man out was Douglas Prasher, who had isolated and sequenced the gene for GFP, then generously provided the data to scientists like Tsien, Chalfie and Shimomura. When the 2008 prize was announced, though, Prasher was working as a courtesy shuttle driver for a Toyota dealership in Huntsville, Alabama.
Prasher’s story – a tale of professional and personal misfortune – has been widely reported, but it appears to have a happy – or at least happier – ending. Prasher has returned to science and, specifically, to Tsien’s UC San Diego lab, where he is working as a staff research associate on new ways to screen cell mutations for optical properties. You can read his updated story here in The Scientist.