Ardem Patapoutian

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Ardem Patapoutian
Born (1967-10-02) 2 October 1967 (age 54)
Education American University of Beirut
University of California, Los Angeles (BS)
California Institute of Technology (MS, PhD)
Awards Nobel Prize in Medicine (2021)
Scientific career
Fields Molecular biology
Institutions Scripps Research
Thesis The role of the MyoD family genes during mouse development  (1996)
Doctoral advisor Barbara Wold

Ardem Patapoutian (Armenian : Արտեմ Փաթափութեան, romanized: Ardem P'at'ap'ut'ean; born 2 October 1967) [1] is an American molecular biologist, neuroscientist, and Nobel Prize laureate. [2] He is known for his work in characterizing the PIEZO1, PIEZO2, and TRPM8 receptors that detect pressure, menthol, and temperature. Patapoutian is a neuroscience professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2021 jointly with David Julius. [3]



Patapoutian was born to an Armenian family in Beirut, Lebanon. [2] [4] [5] He attended the American University of Beirut for a year before emigrating to the United States in 1986. [5] [6] He became a U.S. citizen. [5] He received a B.S. degree in cell and developmental biology from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1990 and a Ph.D. degree in biology from the California Institute of Technology in 1996 under direction of Barbara Wold. [7] [5] [8]

As a postdoctoral fellow, Patapoutian worked with Louis F. Reichardt at the University of California, San Francisco. [9] In 2000, he became an assistant professor at the Scripps Research Institute. [10] Between 2000 and 2014, he had an additional research position for the Novartis Research Foundation. [11] Since 2014, Patapoutian has been an investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). [8]


Patapoutian's research is into the biological receptors for temperature and touch (nociception). [3] The knowledge is used to develop treatments for a range of diseases, including chronic pain. [12] The discoveries made it possible to understand how heat, cold and mechanical forces trigger nerve impulses. [12]

Patapoutian researches the signal transduction of sensors. To find the molecular basis for touch, Patapoutian and his collaborators inactivated genes until they identified the single one that, when disabled, made the cells insensitive. [13] The channel integral to the sense of touch became known as PIEZO1, after the Greek word for pressure. [13] Through its similarity to PIEZO1, a second gene was discovered and named PIEZO2. [14] This ion channel, the more important of the two mechanoreceptors, is essential for the sense of touch. [14] [15] PIEZO1 and PIEZO2 channels have been shown to regulate additional important physiological processes including blood pressure, respiration and urinary bladder control. [14]

Patapoutian also made significant contributions to the identification of novel ion channels and receptors that are activated by temperature, mechanical forces or increased cell volume. [16] [17] Patapoutian and co-workers were able to show that these ion channels play an outstanding role in the sensation of temperature, in the sensation of touch, in proprioception, [18] in the sensation of pain and in the regulation of vascular tone. More recent work uses functional genomics techniques to identify and characterize mechanosensitive ion channels (mechanotransduction). [10] [19] [20] [21]

Awards and honors

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021: Discovery of TRPV1 and PIEZO2 22 Hegasy EN Nobel Prize 2021 TRPV1 Piezo2.png
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2021: Discovery of TRPV1 and PIEZO2

Patapoutian has an h-index of 68 according to Google Scholar, [22] and of 63 according to Scopus [23] as of May 2020. He has been a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science since 2016, a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2017 [24] and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2020. [25] In 2017, Patapoutian received the W. Alden Spencer Award, [26] in 2019 the Rosenstiel Award, [27] in 2020 the Kavli Prize for Neuroscience, [28] and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biology / Biomedicine. [29]

In 2021, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with David Julius for their discoveries of receptors for temperature and touch. [3] [30]

Selected publications



Related Research Articles

Thermoception or thermoreception is the sensation and perception of temperature, or more accurately, temperature differences inferred from heat flux. It deals with a series of events and processes required for an organism to receive a temperature stimulus, convert it to a molecular signal, and recognize and characterize the signal in order to trigger an appropriate defense response.

Sydney Brenner

Sydney Brenner was a South African biologist. In 2002, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with H. Robert Horvitz and Sir John E. Sulston. Brenner made significant contributions to work on the genetic code, and other areas of molecular biology while working in the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England. He established the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans as a model organism for the investigation of developmental biology, and founded the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley, California, United States.

Hair cell

Hair cells are the sensory receptors of both the auditory system and the vestibular system in the ears of all vertebrates, and in the lateral line organ of fishes. Through mechanotransduction, hair cells detect movement in their environment.

Joseph L. Goldstein American biochemist

Joseph Leonard Goldstein ForMemRS is an American biochemist. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985, along with fellow University of Texas Southwestern researcher, Michael Brown, for their studies regarding cholesterol. They discovered that human cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that remove cholesterol from the blood and that when LDL receptors are not present in sufficient numbers, individuals develop hypercholesterolemia and become at risk for cholesterol related diseases, notably coronary heart disease. Their studies led to the development of statin drugs.


Mechanotransduction is any of various mechanisms by which cells convert mechanical stimulus into electrochemical activity. This form of sensory transduction is responsible for a number of senses and physiological processes in the body, including proprioception, touch, balance, and hearing. The basic mechanism of mechanotransduction involves converting mechanical signals into electrical or chemical signals.

Merkel nerve endings are mechanoreceptors, a type of sensory receptor, that are found in the basal epidermis and hair follicles. They are nerve endings and provide information on mechanical pressure, position, and deep static touch features, such as shapes and edges.

Catherine Dulac French-American biologist

Catherine Dulac is a French-American biologist. She is the Higgins Professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, where she served as department chair from 2007 to 2013. She is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She was born in 1963 in France. She came to the United States for her postdoctoral study in 1991.

Bruce Beutler American immunologist and geneticist

Bruce Alan Beutler is an American immunologist and geneticist. Together with Jules A. Hoffmann, he received one-half of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for "their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity".

Somatosensory system Widely distributed parts of the sensory nervous system

The somatosensory system is a part of the sensory nervous system. The somatosensory system is a complex system of sensory neurons and neural pathways that responds to changes at the surface or inside the body. The axons of sensory neurons connect with, or respond to, various receptor cells. These sensory receptor cells are activated by different stimuli such as heat and nociception, giving a functional name to the responding sensory neuron, such as a thermoreceptor which carries information about temperature changes. Other types include mechanoreceptors, chemoreceptors, and nociceptors which send signals along a sensory nerve to the spinal cord where they may be processed by other sensory neurons and then relayed to the brain for further processing. Sensory receptors are found all over the body including the skin, epithelial tissues, muscles, bones and joints, internal organs, and the cardiovascular system.

Proprioception Sense of the relative position of ones own body parts and strength of effort employed in movement

Proprioception, also referred to as kinaesthesia, is the sense of self-movement and body position. It is sometimes described as the "sixth sense".

Mechanosensitive channels, mechanosensitive ion channels or stretch-gated ion channels (not to be confused with mechanoreceptors). They are present in the membranes of organisms from the three domains of life: bacteria, archaea, and eukarya. They are the sensors for a number of systems including the senses of touch, hearing and balance, as well as participating in cardiovascular regulation and osmotic homeostasis (e.g. thirst). The channels vary in selectivity for the permeating ions from nonselective between anions and cations in bacteria, to cation selective allowing passage Ca2+, K+ and Na+ in eukaryotes, and highly selective K+ channels in bacteria and eukaryotes.

Mechanobiology is an emerging field of science at the interface of biology, engineering, and physics. It focuses on how physical forces and changes in the mechanical properties of cells and tissues contribute to development, cell differentiation, physiology, and disease. Mechanical forces are experienced and may be interpreted to give biological responses in cells. The movement of joints, compressive loads on the cartilage and bone during exercise, and shear pressure on the blood vessel during blood circulation are all examples of mechanical forces in human tissues. A major challenge in the field is understanding mechanotransduction—the molecular mechanisms by which cells sense and respond to mechanical signals. While medicine has typically looked for the genetic and biochemical basis of disease, advances in mechanobiology suggest that changes in cell mechanics, extracellular matrix structure, or mechanotransduction may contribute to the development of many diseases, including atherosclerosis, fibrosis, asthma, osteoporosis, heart failure, and cancer. There is also a strong mechanical basis for many generalized medical disabilities, such as lower back pain, foot and postural injury, deformity, and irritable bowel syndrome.

David Julius American physiologist and Nobel laureate 2021

David Jay Julius is an American physiologist and Nobel Prize laureate known for his work on molecular mechanisms of pain sensation and heat, including the characterization of the TRPV1 and TRPM8 receptors that detect capsaicin, menthol, and temperature. He is a professor at the University of California, San Francisco.


Piezo1 is a mechanosensitive ion channel protein that in humans is encoded by the gene PIEZO1. Piezo1 and its close homolog Piezo2 were cloned in 2010, using an siRNA-based screen for mechanosensitive ion channels.


Piezo-type mechanosensitive ion channel component 2 is a protein that in humans is encoded by the PIEZO2 gene. It has a homotrimeric structure, with three blades curving into a nano-dome, with a diameter of 28 nanometers.

Tasuku Honjo Japanese immunologist and Nobel laureate (born 1942)

Tasuku Honjo is a Japanese physician-scientist and immunologist. He won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and is best known for his identification of programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1). He is also known for his molecular identification of cytokines: IL-4 and IL-5, as well as the discovery of activation-induced cytidine deaminase (AID) that is essential for class switch recombination and somatic hypermutation.

Yoda1 Chemical compound

Yoda1 is a chemical compound which is the first agonist developed for the mechanosensitive ion channel PIEZO1. This protein is involved in regulation of blood pressure and red blood cell volume, and Yoda1 is used in scientific research in these areas.

A. James Hudspeth

A. James Hudspeth is the F.M. Kirby Professor at Rockefeller University, where he is director of the F.M. Kirby Center for Sensory Neuroscience. His laboratory studies the physiological basis of hearing.

Arun Kumar Shukla is an Indian structural biologist and the Joy-Gill Chair professor at the department of biological sciences and bioengineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. Known for his studies on G protein-coupled receptor, Shukla is a Wellcome Trust-DBT Intermediate Fellow and a recipient of the SwarnaJayanti Fellowship of the Department of Science and Technology. The Department of Biotechnology of the Government of India awarded him the National Bioscience Award for Career Development, one of the highest Indian science awards, for his contributions to biosciences, in 2017/18. He received the 2021 Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology in Biological Science.

Wasabi receptor toxin

Wasabi receptor toxin (WaTx) is the active component of the venom of the Australian black rock scorpion Urodacus manicatus. WaTx targets TRPA1, also known as the wasabi receptor or irritant receptor. WaTx is a cell-penetrating toxin that stabilizes the TRPA1 channel open state while reducing its Ca2+-permeability, thereby eliciting pain and pain hypersensitivity without the neurogenic inflammation that typically occurs in other animal toxins.


  1. Ardem Patapoutian [@ardemp] (October 2, 2017). "50 years old now! @CastellanosJazz @jwNewMusic & Marshall Hawkins blew the minds of scientists et al" (Tweet). Retrieved October 5, 2021 via Twitter.
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