The molecule is cholic acid, which usually exists as sodium cholate. It's one of the major bile acids in mammals. The bile acids help solubilize lipids during digestion.
The Nobel Laureate is Heinrich Otto Wieland who received the prize for his work on the structure and function of bile acids.
This week's winner is Alex Ling of the University of Toronto. There were quite a few people who got the right answer and this was a surprise to me. Lipids are not the kind of molecules that excite me and I was not expecting that so many of you would recognize cholic acid.
There were winners from four continents. I think that's a first. Readers in Africa and South America are going to have to get try harder if we're ever going to set a six continent record. (As far as I know, there are no Sandwalk readers in Antarctica.
Identify this molecule. Be as specific as possible. Briefly describe what it does.
There's a Nobel Prize connected to this molecule. The prize was for identifying it and working out its structure, and the structure of many derivatives.
The first person to identify the molecule and name the Nobel Laureate(s) wins a free lunch. Previous winners are ineligible for six weeks from the time they first won the prize.
There are only six ineligible candidates for this week's reward: Ben Morgan of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Frank Schmidt of the University of Missouri, Joshua Johnson of Victoria University in Australia, Markus-Frederik Bohn of the Lehrstuhl für Biotechnik in Erlangen, Germany, Jason Oakley a biochemistry student at the University of Toronto, and Dima Klenchin of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Joshua and Dima have agreed to donate their free lunch to an undergraduate. Consequently, I have two extra free lunches for deserving undergraduates so I'm going to award an additional prize to the first undergraduate student who can accept it. Please indicate in your email message whether you are an undergraduate and whether you can make it for lunch. If you can't make it for lunch then please consider donating it to someone who can in the next round.
Send your guess to Sandwalk (sandwalk (at) bioinfo.med.utoronto.ca) and I'll pick the first email message that correctly identifies the molecule(s) and names the Nobel Laureate(s). Note that I'm not going to repeat Nobel Prizes so you might want to check the list of previous Sandwalk postings by clicking on the link in the theme box.
Correct responses will be posted tomorrow.