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Peter Agre picture, image, poster
Peter Agre

Date of birth : 1949-01-30
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Northfield, Minnesota, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-27

American hematologist Peter Agre won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2003, for his 1991 discovery of aquaporins, proteins embedded in cell membranes that regulate and facilitate the flow of water molecules across and into cells, a process essential for life as we know it. Aquaporins form a channel in the membrane, allowing billions of water molecules to diffuse across the membrane every second, and serving as a river-like barrier to prevent other ions or molecules from crossing the channel. Agre has said that aquaporins are "the plumbing system for cells", and the potential applications of his discovery include the development of drugs to address brain edema following a stroke, fluid retention problems in heart disease, or virtually any other disease characterized by excess or inadequate fluids.

Agre is an Eagle Scout and recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (DESA). Two of his brothers are also physicians, and they and his son Clarke are also Eagle Scouts.

Agre is known among science students for his humanity and humility. One of the reasons he gives for this is the grade of "D" Agre received in his first chemistry class, despite having a father who was a chemistry professor. He also notes that his prize-winning research was originally an investigation of the molecular identity of the human blood Rh factor, and his initial discovery of aquaporins was purely serendipitous. He appeared on The Colbert Report, discussing SEA, sound science in politics, and the decline of American knowledge of science, among other topics.

Awards and honors:

Eagle Scout 1964
Nobel Prize for Chemistry 2003 (with Roderick MacKinnon)
Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scientific Review Board (2003-)
Carnegie Institution for Science Embryology Lab (1988-89)
Blood Editorial Board (1993-97)
Journal of Biological Chemistry Editorial Board (1999-2002)
Journal of Clinical Investigation Editorial Board (1993-)
Academy of Achievement 2004
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Association for the Advancement of Science President (2009-10)
American Philosophical Society
American Physiological Society
American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
American Society for Cell Biology
American Society for Clinical Investigation
American Society of Hematology
American Society of Nephrology
Boy Scouts of America (childhood)
Federation of American Scientists Board of Sponsors
National Academy of Sciences 2000
Science Debate 2008
Scientists and Engineers for America


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