Photo courtesy University of California, Berkeley
Biophysicist Carlos Bustamante, born in Lima, Peru, in 1951, bought his first chemistry set and microscope as a teenager when he learned about Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the Spanish neuroscientist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1906. After earning his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1981, he became the first person to use laser tweezers to measure the forces in DNA, making pivotal contributions to the study of DNA replication. Currently a professor at Berkeley, Bustamente has served as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2000 and has received honors including the Alexander Hollaender Award in Biophysics from the National Academy of Science, and the Hans Neurath Prize from the Protein Society. In 2012, he was awarded the Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science.