Meet the Nobel
“Meet the Nobel” aims to be the perfect environment for students and young researchers to ask the Nobel laureate Prof. Robert Lefkowitz about science, research and life. This colloquium / interview will be presented and moderated by the science communicator Pere Estupinya, presenter of of the TV program ‘El Cazador de Cerebros’ (TVE).
Robert Joseph Lefkowitz was born on April 15, 1943, in The Bronx, New York to Jewish parents Max and Rose Lefkowitz. Their families had immigrated to the United States from Poland in the late 19th century. After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science in 1959, he attended Columbia College from which he received a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry 1962. 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.
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.
*(Information extracted form Wikipedia; for more information please visit: http://www.lefkolab.org/)
Pere Estupinyà was born in Tortosa and studied at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili, where he specialized in biochemistry; he also has a master’s degree in nutrition and metabolism and an incomplete doctorate in genetics that he abandoned to devote himself to scientific dissemination.
He has worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the United States and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
He wrote his first book – El Cazador de Cerebros. Compartiendo el conocimiento científico de las mentes más brillantes – in 2010, and since then he has published several other scientific divulgation books. He debuted on television in 2014 presenting a documentary for TV3 titled Inversió de Futur, and later he took to television both his first book and S = EX2. La ciencia del sexo, which he had released in 2013. In 2015 he produced and presented 13 episodes of the series El Cazador de Cerebros in Ecuador, and the following year he developed, together with the producer Minifilms, El Cazador de Cerebros, for TVE, which he currently directs and presents. He also participates in the radio program A vivir from Cadena SER.
*(Information extracted form Wikipedia; for more information please visit: http://pereestupinya.com/)