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Biological Chemistry

Shaw Prize In Life Sciences To Lefkowitz

July 16, 2007 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 85, Issue 29

ROBERT J. LEFKOWITZ, James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and professor of biochemistry at Duke University Medical Center, has been awarded the $1 million Shaw Prize in Life Science & Medicine "for his relentless elucidation of the major receptor system that mediates the response of cells and organs to drugs and hormones."

Lefkowitz' research has led to greater understanding of a family of proteins called G-protein-coupled receptors. In 1982, he identified the gene for the β-adrenergic receptor, and shortly thereafter, he discovered seven additional adrenergic receptors. Lefkowitz also discovered two new families of proteins that desensitize G-protein-coupled receptors. This finding has helped scientists understand how receptors become tolerant of certain drugs.

Lefkowitz is among four winners of the 2007 Shaw Prize, awarded by the Hong Kong-based Shaw Prize Foundation to honor individuals who have achieved significant breakthroughs in academic and scientific research or application and whose work has had a positive and profound impact on humankind. It is awarded annually in three categories: astronomy, life sciences and medicine, and mathematical sciences. The prizes will be presented in September during a ceremony in Hong Kong.


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