Rest, synthesize, divide: The complex and delicate system controlling the life cycles of a cell has long fascinated scientists, and it may open the door to new cancer therapeutics and detection techniques. For their epochal work on which today's knowledge of cell cycle is built, American Leland H. Hartwell of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Britons R. Timothy Hunt and Sir Paul M. Nurse of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund, will receive the Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine this December, on the 100th anniversary of the Nobels.

"The prize recognizes the confluence of two different approaches to learning about the molecular machinery regulating the cell cycle," says Ira Herskowitz, professor in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco. The story of this convergence starts with Hartwell, a man whose discoveries rival baked bread, beer, and wine as yeast's greatest contribution...

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