Linda Buck
Buck in 2015
Linda Brown Buck

(1947-01-29) January 29, 1947 (age 77)[4]
Alma mater
Known forOlfactory receptors
SpouseRoger Brent
Scientific career
InstitutionsFred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
University of Washington, Seattle
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Columbia University
Harvard University[3]
ThesisThe Expression of IgD and Lyb-2 by Murine B Lymphocytes (1980)
Doctoral advisorEllen Vitetta

Linda Brown Buck (born January 29, 1947) is an American biologist best known for her work on the olfactory system.[4] She was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, along with Richard Axel, for their work on olfactory receptors.[5][6][7][8] She is currently on the faculty of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.[9]

Personal life

Linda B. Buck was born in Seattle, Washington on January 29, 1947. Her father was an electrical engineer who spent his time inventing and building different items in his spare time, while her mother was a homemaker who spent a majority of her free time solving word puzzles.[10] Buck was the second of three children, all of them girls.[11] Her father has Irish ancestry as well as ancestors dating back to the American revolution. Her mother is of Swedish ancestry.[12] In 1994 Buck met Roger Brent, also a biologist. The two married in 2006.[13]


Buck received her B.S. in psychology and microbiology in 1975 from the University of Washington, Seattle. She is the first female University of Washington alumnus to win the Nobel Prize.[14] She was awarded her Ph.D. in immunology in 1980 under the direction of Professor Ellen Vitetta at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.[15]

Career and research

In 1980, Buck began postdoctoral research at Columbia University under Benvenuto Pernis (1980–1982). In 1982, she joined the laboratory of Richard Axel, also at Columbia in the Institute of Cancer Research. After reading Sol Snyder's group research paper at Johns Hopkins University, Buck set out to map the olfactory process at the molecular level, tracing the travel of odors through the cells of the nose to the brain. Buck and Axel worked with rat genes in their research and identified a family of genes that code for more than 1000 odor receptors and published these findings in 1991.[6][16] Later that year, Buck became an assistant professor in the Neurobiology Department at Harvard Medical School where she established her own lab.[17] After finding how odors are detected by the nose, Buck published her findings in 1993 on how the inputs from different odor receptors are organized in the nose.[16] Essentially, her primary research interest is on how pheromones and odors are detected in the nose and interpreted in the brain. She is a Full Member of the Basic Sciences Division at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and an Affiliate Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (2004)

In her landmark paper published in 1991 with Richard Axel, Linda Buck discovered hundreds of genes code for the odorant sensors located in the olfactory neurons of our noses.[15] Each receptor is a protein that changes when an odor attaches to the receptor, causing an electrical signal to be sent to the brain.[11] Differences between odorant sensors mean that certain odors cause a signal to be released from a certain receptor.[11] We are then able to interpret varying signals from our receptors as specific scents.[11] To do this, Buck and Axel cloned olfactory receptors, showing that they belong to the family of G protein-coupled receptors. By analyzing rat DNA, they estimated that there were approximately 1,000 different genes for olfactory receptors in the mammalian genome.[18][19] This research opened the door to the genetic and molecular analysis of the mechanisms of olfaction. In their later work, Buck and Axel have shown that each olfactory receptor neuron remarkably only expresses one kind of olfactory receptor protein and that the input from all neurons expressing the same receptor is collected by a single dedicated glomerulus of the olfactory bulb.

Awards and honors

Buck was awarded the Takasago Award for Research in Olfaction (1992), Unilever Science Award (1996), R.H. Wright Award in Olfactory Research (1996), Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Research (1996), Perl/UNC Neuroscience Prize (2002), and Gairdner Foundation International Award (2003).[20] In 2005, she received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[21] Buck was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2003 and the Institutes of Medicine in 2006.[20] Buck has been a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2008.[22] She also sits on the Selection Committee for Life Science and Medicine which chooses winners of the Shaw Prize. In 2015, Buck was awarded an honorary doctorate by Harvard University and elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS).[2]


Buck retracted 3 papers, published in Nature (pub. 2001, retracted 2008), Science (pub 2006, retracted 2010) and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (pub 2005, retracted 2010) due to falsification/fabrication of results by lead author and collaborator Zhihua Zou. [23]

See also


  1. ^ "Linda B. Buck – A Superstar of Science". Superstars of Science. Archived from the original on 2014-08-10. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  2. ^ a b "Dr Linda Buck ForMemRS, Foreign Member". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-11-17. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  3. ^ "Facts & Figures". Harvard Medical School. Harvard College. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Buck, Linda B.". Who's Who. Vol. 2016 (online Oxford University Press ed.). Oxford: A & C Black. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ "Press Release: The 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine". Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  6. ^ a b Buck, L.; Axel, R. (1991). "A novel multigene family may encode odorant receptors: a molecular basis for odor recognition". Cell. 65 (1): 175–87. doi:10.1016/0092-8674(91)90418-X. PMID 1840504.
  7. ^ "Secrets of smell land Nobel Prize". BBC News. 4 October 2004. Retrieved 8 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Linda B. Buck – Curriculum Vitae, Interview". 2013-01-12. Archived from the original on January 12, 2013. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  9. ^ "Linda Buck Lab". Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  10. ^ "Linda B. Buck, PhD". Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  11. ^ a b c d "Linda B. Buck – Biographical". The Nobel Foundation 2004. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  12. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2004". Retrieved 2023-10-22.
  13. ^ Badge, Peter (2008-01-01). Nobel Faces. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 9783527406784.
  14. ^ "Linda Fagan, '00, takes helm of U.S. Coast Guard". UW Magazine — University of Washington Magazine. May 30, 2022. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
  15. ^ a b Badge, Peter (2008). Nobel Faces. John Wiley & Sons. p. 180. ISBN 9783527406784. Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  16. ^ a b "Linda B. Buck, Ph.D. Biography – Academy of Achievement".
  17. ^ "Linda B. Buck – Autobiography". Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  18. ^ Stein, Gabe (8 September 2017). "Five facts about Linda Buck, olfactory pioneer". Massive Science. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  19. ^ Lyons, Daniel. "The Secrets of Scent". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
  20. ^ a b Wayne, Tiffany K. (2010). "Linda B. Buck". American Women of Science Since 1900.
  21. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  22. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 7 April 2011.
  23. ^ Retraction Database search. Retrieved 14 December 2021