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In This Issue

There are two curious facts about this year's Nobel Prizes, which will be presented in Stockholm later this month. First, the Prize in Physiology and Medicine went to a Doctor in Chemistry (Paul Lauterbur) and a Doctor in Physics (Peter Mansfield), whereas the Prize in Chemistry was awarded to two Medical Doctors (Peter Agre and Rod MacKinnon). Second, it is unusual that, in the same year, the two prizes recognize contributions that have profound implications for the understanding of the nervous system.

In this issue, we join in the celebration of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry by featuring two reviews that relate to the molecules on which the award-winning research of Agre and MacKinnon was focused. Amiry-Moghaddam and Ottersen (p. 991) present an overview of the mechanisms that govern water homeostasis in the nervous system. This phenomenon involves the function of the aquaporins, the discovery of which led to the recognition of Agre's effort. Bichet, Haass and Jan (p. 957) integrate structural and functional data into a model of the workings of inwardly rectifying potassium channels. The relevance of the crystallographic work with which MacKinnon has revolutionized the study of ion channels is readily apparent in their review.

A final curious fact about the Prize in Chemistry in relation to the work on ion channels is that a Medical Doctor used crystallographic techniques to answer a question that neurophysiologists, biophysicists and molecular biologists had long been trying to solve with their own methodological arsenal. It is to be hoped that the recognition of this work will inspire present and future generations of neuroscientists to explore the potential that such interdisciplinary cross-fertilization offers to foster our understanding of brain function.

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In This Issue. Nat Rev Neurosci 4, 931 (2003).

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