Lefkowitz, Robert Joseph

views updated

Robert Joseph Lefkowitz, 1943–, American physician, b. New York, N.Y., M.D. Columbia, 1966. Since 1973 Lefkowitz has been a professor at Duke Univ.; he was appointed a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 1976. Lefkowitz shared the 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Brian Kobilka for their studies of G-protein-coupled receptors. The human body has about a thousand of these versatile biological sensors, which play critical roles in virtually all known physiological processes including sight, smell, and taste; regulation of heart rate and blood pressure; pain tolerance; and glucose metabolism. Through his work Lefkowitz defined the field of receptor biology, which has important applications in the development of new drugs and new treatments for human diseases.