Nobel laureate in chemistry Robert J. Lefkowitz becomes CRCHUM honorary researcher

Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz.

Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz.

Credit: CRCHUM.

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Nobel laureate in chemistry Robert J. Lefkowitz becomes CRCHUM honorar.

Dr. Fabrice Brunet, director of the University of Montreal Hospital Centre (CHUM), has awarded the title of honorary CRCHUM researcher to Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz, 2012 Nobel laureate in chemistry, during a conference at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM). Dr. Lefkowitz was the guest of honour at the 6th Journée scientifique du CRCHUM, whose theme was “Seven-transmembrane domain receptors: from pharmacology to translational medicine.”

“I am proud to present this award to Dr. Lefkowitz. His discovery of a new family of cell receptors that allow cells to adapt to various situations has revolutionized pharmacology. His work has inspired further research to develop more effective and safer drugs for patients,” said Dr. Brunet.

Dr. Lefkowitz presented the latest advances in his research on G-protein-coupled receptors at the 6th Journée scientifique du CRCHUM.

G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the sensors of our cells. Located on the surface of the cells of all mammals, they act as kind of communication antennae. GPCRs play a role in smell, taste, light sensitivity, and the action of hormones and drugs.

Dr. Robert J. Lefkowitz, Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at Duke University (North Carolina) and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in Chevy Chase (Maryland), along with Dr. Brian Kobilka, Professor of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Physiology, showed that all GPCRs share the same structure. “This discovery has revolutionized pharmacological research, since nearly half of all current drugs are based on actions that target these receptors. A better understanding of GPCRs will help to create more effective and safer drugs. So it is with great pride that we are able to receive Dr. Lefkowitz and have the opportunity to discuss the practical implications of this scientific breakthrough for patients and populations,” said Dr. Vincent Poitout, researcher and CRCHUM director.

Dr. Robert J, Lefkowitz, 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, presented a public lecture entitled “Seven-transmembrane receptors,” at the 6th Journée scientifique du CRCHUM. A bit like keys in locks, hormones, amino acids, and even photons bind to specific G-receptors on the surface of cells. Simply inserting the key in the appropriate lock causes a conformational change in the G-protein and triggers a cascade of signals within the cell resulting in an appropriate cellular response. Recent studies have shown that defects in these receptors are involved in pathologies as varied as type 2 diabetes, obesity, baldness, and adrenocortical tumors.

For more information, see the program of the 6th Journée scientifique du CRCHUM.

About Robert J. Lefkowitz

Robert J. Lefkowitz is an MD, James B. Duke professor of medicine, and professor of biochemistry at the Duke University Medical Center and researcher at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. In 1986, Dr. Lefkowitz revolutionized our understanding of G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). With his colleagues, he cloned the gene and the cDNA of the beta-2 adrenergic receptor and identified their sequence homology with rhodopsin, discovering the first members of a new family of proteins: seven-transmembrane domain receptors (7TMRs). Since then, Dr. Lefkowitz has continued to revolutionize the field of GPCRs. He recently used the tools of structural biology to understand this new signaling at the atomic level.

About the Journée scientifique du CRCHUM

The CRCHUM Journée scientifique is an annual conference that presents recent advances of researchers from the CRCHUM and elsewhere in the world. The free public scientific event is chaired by a Nobel laureate in medicine or chemistry. In past years, the CRCHUM received Professor Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, Professor Lee Hartwell, Dr. Ferid Murad, and Professor Jules Hoffmann.

About the CRCHUM

The Université de Montréal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) improves the health of adults through a high-quality academic research continuum which, by improving our understanding of etiological and pathogenic mechanisms, fosters the development, implementation, and assessment of new preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies. The CRCHUM provides a training environment to ensure the development of new generations of researchers committed to research excellence. 

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