Roger Yonchien Tsien Ph.D.

Tsien, Roger Yonchien
Position Department / Business Unit
Professor Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Institution Disciplines
University of California, San Diego Chemistry
City State / Provence
San Diego California
Country Website

Roger Yonchien Tsien is an American chemist and a professor at the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego.

After completing his PhD at Cambridge University, he was appointed to the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley from 1982 to 1989. Since 1989 he has been working at the University of California, San Diego, as Professor of Pharmacology and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Tsien is renowned for revolutionizing the fields of cell biology and neurobiology by allowing scientists to peer inside living cells and watch the behavior of molecules in real time. He is well-known for developing colorful dyes, such as Fura-2, to track the movement of calcium within cells and has genetically modified molecules that make jellyfish and corals glow, creating fluorescent colors in a dazzling variety of hues. These multicolored fluorescent proteins are used by scientists to track where and when certain genes are expressed in cells or in whole organisms.

In 2004, Tsien was awarded the Wolf Prize in Medicine for "for his seminal contribution to the design and biological application of novel fluorescent and photolabile molecules to analyze and perturb cell signal transduction."  In 2006 he became a Foreign Fellow of the Royal Society in the UK.


He attended Harvard University on a National Merit Scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry and physics in 1972. He received his Ph.D in physiology from the University of Cambridge in 1977.


W. Alden Spencer Award in Neurobiology, Columbia University (1991)
Artois-Baillet-Latour Health Prize, Belgium (1995)
Gairdner Foundation International Award, Canada (1995)
Basic Research Prize, American Heart Association (1995)
Elected to Institute of Medicine (1995)
Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1998)
Elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1998)
Award for Innovation in High Throughput Screening, Society for Biomolecular Screening (1998)
Herbert Sober Lectureship, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2000)
Pearse Prize, Royal Microscopical Society (2000)
ACS Award for Creative Invention, American Chemical Society (2002)
Christian B. Anfinsen Award, Protein Society (2002)
Heineken Prize for Biochemistry and Biophysics, Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (2002)
Max Delbrück Medal, Max Delbrück Centrum für Molekulare Medizin, Berlin (2002)
The Wolf Prize in Medicine (2004)
Fellow, Royal Society, UK (2006)

By this Researcher

Related Content