Now he drives a car shuttle, notwithstanding his reflecting the best of scientific progress:

Twenty years ago, Douglas Prasher was one of the driving forces behind research that earned a Nobel Prize in chemistry this week. But today, he’s just driving.

Prasher, 57, works as a courtesy shuttle operator at a Huntsville, Ala., Toyota dealership. While his former colleagues will fly to Stockholm in December to accept the Nobel Prize and a $1.4 million check, the former Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist will be earning $10 an hour while trying to put two of his children through college.

After the American Cancer Society gave Prasher a $220,000 grant in 1988, he set about isolating and copying the GFP gene.

That caught the attention of Martin Chalfie, another of the Nobel Prize winners announced this week. The Columbia University researcher said yesterday that the organism he was working with at the time was transparent, and he hoped Prasher’s work on the luminescent jellyfish protein would provide a way for him to see its molecular functions.

Four years later, as Prasher’s grant dried up and he was no longer able to continue his own research, he voluntarily gave samples of the GFP gene to Chalfie.

"(Prasher’s) work was critical and essential for the work we did in our lab," Chalfie said. "They could’ve easily given the prize to Douglas and the other two and left me out."