A Toast to Michael W. Young, PhD

Michael W. Young, PhD
Michael W. Young, PhD, in his lab at Rockefeller University.

I may have been the only person in the world who was disappointed when I learned that Michael W. Young, with Michael Rosbash and Jeffrey Hall, shared a Nobel Prize in 2017 “for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.”

When I first heard the names of the Nobel laureates, I had assumed Michael Young was our Michael Young, PhD, a Chicago psychologist, and former president of SLTBR.  I was thrilled that the Nobel Committee was focusing on circadian rhythms, and I was beyond thrilled to hear that someone connected with CET was being honored.

Later, I hoped I hadn’t misinformed too many people about my pride and delight.

Yet the more I learned about Michael W. Young – the other Michael Young – the happier I became. Michael W. Young used cutting edge tools in genetics to identify new genes, and advance our understanding of how they worked, as most of you know far better than I.

Further, he drew a bridge between genetics and clinical sleep disorders, a core part of CET’s efforts in education, treatment, and research.

However, what struck me in his writing, and presentations, is that he seems so engaging, so modest, and so human. For example, he clearly regarded Rockefeller University as a community, not just a research institution.

And of course, it didn’t hurt that he was inspired by the mimosa plant as a child!

Let’s raise our glasses to Michael W. Young, and a spirit of community among all who are involved with circadian rhythms, endeavor to deepen our knowledge of them, or use this knowledge to benefit our patients, and society.

–Elizabeth Saenger, PhD


And now, please treat yourself to a nine-minute video tracing Dr. Young’s passion for science from his childhood curiosity to the present.