Winner of Nobel prize talks with Good Day New York - New York News

Nobel prize winner hails from the Bronx

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The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2012 Nobel prize in chemistry on Wednesday to two U.S. scientists including Dr. Robert Lefkowitz who hails from the Bronx.

Lefkowitz said he was asleep when the Nobel committee called, and didn't hear the phone  because he was wearing ear plugs. His wife took the call.

Lefkowitz, a graduate of Bronx Science High School, explained the research he and fellow recipient Brian Kobilka did on receptors during an interview over the phone with Good Day New York:

"What we studied over these years is a particular type of molecule called a receptor which are on the surface of all cells on our bodies which neurotransmitters and hormones react to. 

We often use the flight or fight response (to explain our work):

The adrenaline in your blood must first interact with your cell.  It must fit like a key fits into a lock. It has to fit into a receptor on the surface of the cell. Adrenaline is like a key, the receptor is like a lock.

The same thing is true with all sorts of molecules: histamine, dopamine, molecules. The work we've done basically allows us to understand what those receptors are like and thereby design better drugs," Dr. Lefkowitz told Good Day New York.

About half of all medications act on these receptors.

Lefkowitz, 69, is an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and professor at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.

Kobilka, 57, worked for Lefkowitz at Duke before transferring to Stanford University School of Medicine in California, where he is now a professor.

"I want to congratulate Robert Lefkowitz, the latest Nobel Prize winner, who is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science. This is the eighth graduate from Bronx Science to win a Nobel Prize and reflects the top-notch education offered in our schools," said Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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