The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2017 has been awarded to three American researchers Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young for their “discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm”, the Nobel committee announced on Monday.

Using fruit flies as a model organism, this year’s Nobel Laureates isolated a gene that controls the daily biological rhythm, the Nobel committee said. The winners raised “awareness of the importance of a proper sleep hygiene”, The Guardian quoted Juleen Zierath of the Nobel academy as saying.

“Their discoveries explain how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronised with the Earth’s revolutions.”

This is the first Nobel prize to be announced this year. The winners for physics, chemistry, peace and economics will be announced later this week.

About the winners

Jeffrey C Hall was born 1945 in New York. He received his doctoral degree in 1971 at the University of Washington in Seattle and was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena from 1971 to 1973.

Michael Rosbash was born in 1944 in Kansas City. He received his doctoral degree in 1970 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and three years later, he got a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Since 1974, he has been on faculty at Brandeis University in Waltham.

Michael W Young was born in 1949 in Miami, USA. He received his doctoral degree at the University of Texas in Austin in 1975. Between 1975 and 1977, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University in Palo Alto. From 1978, he has been on faculty at the Rockefeller University in New York.

Last year’s prize

The 2016 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to Japanese cell biologist Yoshinori Ohsumi. Ohsumi received the award “for his discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy”, which is the process through which organisms naturally disassemble and recycle unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components.