Daily Israel Report

American Jew Awarded Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Americans Robert Lefkowit, a Jew, and Brian Kobilka won the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 10/10/2012, 1:30 PM

Handout photo of Lefkowitz being congratulated by then U.S. President Bush after receiving the Natio
Handout photo of Lefkowitz being congratulated by then U.S. President Bush after receiving the Natio
Reuters

Americans Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka won the 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry Wednesday for studies of protein receptors that let body cells sense and respond to outside signals.

Robert Lefkowitz is Jewish according to JINFO.org. So far two of the six Nobel Prize winners this year are Jewish. Serge Haroche, a Frenchman of  Moroccan-Jewish descent, won the Nobel Prize for Physics Tuesday.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said Lefkowitz and Kobilka made groundbreaking discoveries on an important family of receptors, known as G-protein-coupled receptors.

About half of all medications act on these receptors, so learning about them will help scientists to come up with better drugs.

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

Kobilka, 57, is a professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

Last year, Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman from the Technion won the chemistry award for the discovery of quasicrystals, made in 1982, which “fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter,” according to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The Nobel Prizes were established in the will of 19th century Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite. Each award is worth 8 million kronor, or about $1.2 million. The awards are always handed out on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.