Giants in History: Osamu Shimomura

The scientist who discovered why jellyfish glow 

Osamu Shimomura (27 August 1928 - 19 October 2018)


Osamu Shimomura (27 August 1928 – 19 October 2018) was a Japanese organic chemist and marine biologist who dedicated his career to understanding how organisms emitted light. When he was working at a munitions factory near Nagasaki during World War II, the atomic bomb dropped on the city. Shimomura walked home in a shower of black radioactive rain and may have escaped its deadly effects by taking a quick bath. Shimomura showed that the light-emitting apparatus of the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) in jellyfish was contained within the protein, suggesting that the GFP gene may be used as an imaging tool. Since its discovery, the GFP gene has been widely used as a tag to visualize the expression of other genes. For the discovery of GFP, Shimomura, together with Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008.

Academic disciplines: 
2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry