Richard Axel, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Columbia University, NY, and Linda B. Buck from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., have been awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet said the two researchers were being recognized for their discovery of odorant receptors and the organization of the olfactory system. Their seminal paper, in which they described the large family of roughly 1000 genes for odorant receptors, was a watershed in the field.

"This has been of pretty immense significance," said Tim Jacob, professor of physiology at the School of Biosciences at Cardiff University, UK. "Their work has opened the door to all the current investigations trying to crack the molecular code of smells or tastes."

"Until their discovery, drawings of how olfaction takes place had a black box for reception," Matthew Cobb, from...

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