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Stanford University professor Brian Kobilka shares Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Brian Kobilka, 57, a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry today for his research concerning protein receptors that let body cells sense and respond to outside signals. Kobilka will share the award with Robert Lefkowitz, 69, a professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

In the 1980s, the two scientists made groundbreaking discoveries about G-protein-coupled receptors, a family of receptors that allow cells to sense the outside world.

Kobilka was informed of his prize by phone at around 2:30 AM on Wednesday, after the Nobel Committee called his home twice. (Kobilka did not get to the phone in time the first time.)

Lefkowitz found receptors, including the one for adrenaline, by studies employing radioactivity in the 1980s. Kobilka and his team recognized a whole family of receptors that look alike, the G-protein-coupled receptors. In 2011, Kobilka’s team ‘…captured an image of the receptor for adrenaline at the moment when it is activated by a hormone and sends a signal into the cell. The academy called the image “a molecular masterpiece.”

-Bill at

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