Nobel winner to speak at Research Day, receive honorary degree

April 27, 2011 | Events, UToday
By Jon Strunk



Nobel Laureate Dr. Ferid Murad will discuss how chemicals can provide signals to cancer and stem cells in a keynote speech Friday, April 29, at 1 p.m. in the Dana Center Auditorium during The University of Toledo Health Science Campus’ Research Day.

Murad later will receive an honorary doctor of science degree at 5 p.m. in the Toledo Hilton.

Both events are free and open to the public.

Dr. Jeffrey Gold, chancellor, executive vice president for biosciences and health affairs, and dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences, said Murad’s research into nitric oxide and its effect on blood vessels led to countless new therapies and diagnostic tools. Nitric oxide now is known to play a key role in many biological functions, including inflammation, blood flow regulation, cell growth, smooth muscle relaxation and preserving memory.

“We’re proud to honor one of the world’s foremost medical researchers,” Gold said. “We are honored by his attendance and excited to hear more about his research.”

Murad earned his MD and PhD from Western Reserve University in 1965. Following his clinical training, he served in academic, research and administrative roles at the University of Virginia, Stanford University, Northwestern University and the University of Texas. He also worked in the pharmaceutical industry, both at Abbott Laboratories and as president and CEO of Molecular Geriatrics Corp.

Murad’s work with nitric oxide began in graduate school and has continued throughout his career, earning him the Lasker Award in 1996 and the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1998. Murad recently joined the faculty at George Washington University and established a laboratory to continue his research.

“Every UT researcher and student will have a great example from the research of Dr. Ferid Murad. Dr. Murad was interested in blood vessels and vasodilatation in the 1990s while other scientists were interested in muscle phosphorylation,” said Dr. Nader Abraham, professor and chair of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, who invited Murad to speak at UT.

“While others said blood vessel dilation wasn’t worth researching, Dr. Murad unlocked the secrets of nitric oxide that are now used in asthma and cardiovascular disease treatments as well as to halt heart attacks. Dr. Murad’s vision contributed to the understanding of the significance and the impact of basic science research on translational research as his work in the laboratory led directly to clinical treatments.”

Coincidently, Murad’s research into nitric oxide could have been used by Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist who founded the Nobel Prize, who suffered from angina, a tightening of the chest experienced due to a drop in blood supply to part of the heart.

Abraham said that even more odd was the fact that Nobel made his fortune using nitroglycerin to invent dynamite. At the time, nitroglycerin also was prescribed to alleviate angina, although Nobel couldn’t take it; it gave him headaches.

Murad also will speak to physicians, residents and students during a grand rounds lecture Thursday, April 28, at noon in Health Education Building Room 105.

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