George E. Palade

University of California, San Diego

November 19, 1912 - October 7, 2008

Scientific Discipline: Cellular and Developmental Biology
Membership Type:
Emeritus (elected 1961)

George E. Palade was a leader in cellular and molecular biology. His research focused on cell structures and their components. While mapping the mitochondria he found small particles, formerly thought to be fragments of the mitochondria, on the outside of the endoplasmic reticulum, which is the intracellular transport system. Using cell fractionation, he isolated these particles, noticed that they had high RNA content and secreted proteins, and named them ribosomes. Palade and his colleagues Albert Claude and Christian de Duve were jointly awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine "for discoveries concerning the functional organization of the cell that were seminal events in the development of modern cell biology."

Palade received his MD in 1940 from the Carol Davila School of Medicine in Bucharest, Romania. He served on the faculty there until 1946, when he came to the United States for postdoctoral studies. In 1952 he became a naturalized citizen of the United States, and he worked at the Rockefeller Institute from 1958 to 1973. Palade became a professor of the Yale University Medical School until 1990, when he joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego. He retired in 2008 as a professor emeritus in the Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine, as well as a dean for scientific affairs in the School of Medicine.

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