Laureate: Michael W. Young received the Nobel Prize for his genetics work related to the circadian rhythms of fruit flies. He speaks on Tuesday, March 19.

The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce will host Nobel laureate Michael W. Young for its annual Albert Einstein Memorial Lecture on Tuesday, March 19, at 5:30 p.m. at Princeton Theological Seminary’s Mackay Auditorium. Register at for the free talk. For more information, call 609-924-1776, ext. 100 or e-mail

Young is a pioneer of genetics research who discovered the “ clock” genes of fruit flies. This research led to discoveries of the circadian rhythms of vertebrates including humans.

Young is a professor and head of the genetics laboratory at Rockefeller University. Young received a bachelor’s in biology in 1971 and a Ph.D. in genetics in 1975, both from the University of Texas, Austin. His graduate work, with Burke Judd, examined gene sizes and distributions in the chromosomes of Drosophila, or fruit flies. He moved to Rockefeller in 1978 following postdoctoral work on transposable elements with David Hogness in the department of biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine.

In the late 1970s Young began to use the fruit fly to explore the molecular bases of circadian (daily) rhythms. Molecular and genetic screens in his laboratory identified six genes that are involved in the formation of a biochemical oscillator with a periodicity close to 24 hours. Interactions among these genes, and their proteins, contribute to a network of molecular oscillations that emerge within most tissues at the level of single cells.

Most of the “clock genes” discovered by Young and his colleagues in Drosophila are also central to the circadian pathways of vertebrates. Recently Young’s laboratory showed that a prevalent human sleep disorder is caused by dysfunction of such a well-conserved circadian clock gene. Young won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries of molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythms.

“Dr. Michael W. Young is our 25th Einstein Lecture Series speaker and he joins a program with a legacy of presenting exceptional Noble Laureate speakers to our Chamber and to our community audience,” said Peter Crowley, CEO of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

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