updated 12/4/2008 3:02:08 PM ET 2008-12-04T20:02:08

A scientist-turned-van driver in Alabama whose work helped two other men win this year's chemistry Nobel Prize is headed to Sweden to watch them collect the award.

Douglas Prasher told The Huntsville Times he was flying to Stockholm on Thursday at the invitation of winners Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien.

Prasher was a researcher in the 1980s when he isolated and copied a gene that makes some jellyfish glow green. His grant money ran out and he gave a copy of the gene to Chalfie and Tsien.

Chalfie and Tsien won the $1.4 million prize for figuring out how to use the glow to study cells. A third scientist shared the award for discovering the protein in the 1960s.

The 57-year-old Prasher has struggled to find work as a biochemist and now drives a courtesy van for a Toyota dealership in Huntsville.

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