Episode 71: Life After Winning a Nobel Prize. with Prof Martin Chalfie Nobel Prize Laureate for GFP

Life after Winning a Nobel Prize. with Prof Martin Chalfie Nobel Prize Laureate for GFP


The latest episode of The Struggling Scientists podcast featured Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie, unraveling his scientific journey, and his discovery of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) on behalf of Suzanne and Jayron. Now, in part 2 of this captivating conversation, professor Chalfie candidly discusses the influence of winning a Nobel Prize on his life and how he missed the announcement of his own Nobel Prize.

Martin Chalfie, a remarkable scientist, began his journey with a new graduate student, Gia Skyrkan, who had a master’s degree in engineering and expertise in fluorescence. Together, they discovered Douglas Prasher’s paper on isolating cDNA for GFP and successfully collaborated with Prasher to obtain the cDNA. While other groups faced hurdles in obtaining GFP, Chalfie’s group utilized PCR and isolated the correct cDNA for GFP, marking a pivotal moment in Chalfie’s scientific career. However, they encountered challenges during the publication process, including the title, cover image, and citations in the paper.

Increased visibility after winning a Nobel rpzie

Professor Chalfie recalls the moment he discovered he had won the Nobel Prize after initially missing the announcement. He discusses how winning the prize has increased his visibility in the scientific community and provided numerous opportunities, including invitations to travel worldwide and meet people from various fields. However, he emphasizes that with increased visibility comes heightened expectations and pressure, illustrating the hidden costs and challenges that accompany the Nobel Prize.

The importance of fundamental research

Moreover, Professor Chalfie’s involvement in academic and scientific communities expanded after winning the Nobel Prize. He also received several honorary degrees, affirming the far-reaching impact of his groundbreaking work with GFP. He highlights how GFP and its related proteins have been extensively used in research, from detecting landmines to monitoring protein folding, showcasing the wide-ranging applications of his discovery.

During the interview, Professor Chalfie shares his reflections on the ripple effects of basic scientific discoveries, emphasizing how discoveries like GFP have led to more significant developments and applications. He uses examples such as the laser and CRISPR Cas 9 to illustrate how fundamental research can pave the way for groundbreaking innovations and advancements in science and technology.

Advice from a Nobel prize laureate

Additionally, the episode delves into Professor Chalfie’s advice for aspiring young scientists. He encourages them not to simply “follow their passion” but to also find excitement and involvement in their scientific pursuits. Through his own experiences post-Nobel Prize, he stresses the importance of prioritizing time and experiments, shedding light on the complexities and trade-offs of handling increased demands and opportunities.


In conclusion, episode 71 of The Struggling Scientists provides a candid and enlightening look into the impact of winning the Nobel Prize on the life and career of a renowned scientist. Professor Martin Chalfie’s frank discussion about the advantages, challenges, and reflections on his journey serves as a valuable resource for aspiring scientists and science enthusiasts alike, offering insights into the multifaceted nature of scientific recognition and its enduring effects.

Rather listen to the epsidoe on your favorite podcast platform?
Not to worry, here are the links to Spotify & Apple Podcast as well.

Also consider checking out one of our previous episodes with Ashley Ruba for tips on how to leave academia for a non-academic career.

Until next time !

It would really help us if you leave a rating on your favorite Podcast Listening Platform!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *