Robert Lefkowitz in Stockholm 2012
Robert Joseph Lefkowitz
April 15, 1943
|Alma mater||Columbia University|
|Known for||G protein coupled receptors|
|Spouse(s)||Arna Brandel (divorced)|
Lynn Tilley (m. 1991)
|Awards||National Medal of Science (2007)|
BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2009)
Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2012)
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
|Notable students||Lee Limbird, Jeffrey Benovic|
Robert Joseph Lefkowitz (born April 15, 1943) is an American physician (internist and cardiologist) and biochemist. He is best known for his groundbreaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family G protein-coupled receptors, for which he was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Brian Kobilka. He is currently an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as well as a James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry at Duke University.
He graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1966 with an M.D. Degree. After serving an internship and one year of general medical residency at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, he served as Clinical and Research Associate at the National Institutes of Health from 1968 to 1970.
Upon completing his medical residency and research and clinical training in 1973, he was appointed Associate Professor of Medicine and Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the Duke University Medical Center. In 1977 he was promoted to Professor of Medicine and in 1982 to James B. Duke Professor of Medicine at Duke University. He is also a Professor of Biochemistry and a Professor of Chemistry. He has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1976 and was an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association from 1973-1976.
Lefkowitz studies receptor biology and signal transduction and is most well known for his detailed characterizations of the sequence, structure and function of the β-adrenergic and related receptors and for the discovery and characterization of the two families of proteins which regulate them, the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) kinases and β-arrestins.
Lefkowitz made a remarkable contribution in the mid-1980s when he and his colleagues cloned the gene first for the β-adrenergic receptor, and then rapidly thereafter, for a total of 8 adrenergic receptors (receptors for adrenaline and noradrenaline). This led to the seminal discovery that all GPCRs (which include the β-adrenergic receptor) have a very similar molecular structure. The structure is defined by an amino acid sequence which weaves its way back and forth across the plasma membrane seven times. Today we know that about 1,000 receptors in the human body belong to this same family. The importance of this is that all of these receptors use the same basic mechanisms so that pharmaceutical researchers now understand how to effectively target the largest receptor family in the human body. Today, as many as 30 to 50 percent of all prescription drugs are designed to "fit" like keys into the similarly structured locks of Lefkowitz' receptors—everything from anti-histamines to ulcer drugs to beta blockers that help relieve hypertension, angina and coronary disease. Lefkowitz is among the most highly cited researchers in the fields of biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, and clinical medicine according to Thomson-ISI.
Lefkowitz is married to Lynn (née Tilley). He has five children and six grandchildren. He was previously married to Arna Brandel.
Lefkowitz has received numerous awards including:
| Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate
With: Brian Kobilka