Nobel Laureates

Robert F. Furchgott, Class of 1940

Robert F. Furchgott

Robert Furchgott, PhD ’40, graduated Northwestern University Medical School with a PhD in biochemistry in 1940. In 1978, he discovered a substance in endothelial cells that relaxes blood vessels, calling it endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF). He later determined that EDRF was nitric oxide and identified the role that nitric oxide plays in the regulation of cardiovascular function. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998, which he shared with Louis J. Ignarro and Ferid Murad for “their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signaling molecule.” Furchgott’s discoveries have helped scientists understand and find new treatments for cardiovascular diseases and other conditions ranging from immune disorders to memory loss, pulmonary disease, and erectile dysfunction.

Furchgott, a long time faculty member at SUNY Downstate, also received a Gairdner Foundation International Award and the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. He died in 2009.