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Japanese Nobel chemistry laureate Shimomura dies at 90

October 22, 2018
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FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2008, file photo, Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate Osamu Shimomura speaks during the press conference at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden. Shimomura, one of three scientists who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery and development of a jellyfish protein that contributed to cancer studies, has died in Japan’s southern city of Nagasaki where he studied as a student. He was 90. His alma mater Nagasaki University said Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, that Shimomura died Friday of natural causes.(AP Photo/Scanpix, Fredrik Persson, File)

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese-born Marine biologist Osamu Shimomura, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry, has died. He was 90.

His alma mater Nagasaki University said Monday that Shimomura died Friday of natural causes.

Shimomura and two American scientists shared the 2008 Nobel prize for the discovery and development of a jellyfish protein that later contributed to cancer studies.

Shimomura was born in northern Kyoto in 1928 and studied in Nagasaki, where he survived the Aug. 9, 1945, U.S. atomic bombing at age 16. His high school education was cut short during World War II as he was mobilized to work at a munitions factory.

He eventually earned chemistry degree in 1951 from Nagasaki College of Pharmacy.

In 1960 he moved to Princeton University, where he isolated the protein in samples of thousands of jellyfish taken from the U.S. West Coast, often with the help of his wife Akemi.

The protein known as Green Fluorescent Protein lets off a glow when it is illuminated with ultraviolet light and has become a key tool in studying biological processes in cells.

Shimomura was based in the U.S., but had moved back to Nagasaki to be close to his relatives, Nagasaki University officials said.

The devastation from the atomic bomb that killed 70,000 in Nagasaki, left a lasting impression on Shimomura and he often mentioned his experience and called for nuclear weapons ban in his lectures later in life.

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