October 3, 2003

Sutherland lecture features Nobel laureate Ignarro

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Daniel Liebler, Ph.D. said the diversity and quality of biomedical research at Vanderbilt will make the institution a strong player in the field of proteomics. Dana Johnson

The Earl W. Sutherland Lecture will be held Thursday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m. in 208 Light Hall.

Louis J. Ignarro, Ph.D., co-winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and the Jerome J. Belzer, MD, Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at the UCLA School of Medicine, will present a lecture entitled “Nitric Oxide as a Unique Signaling Molecule in Vascular Biology.”

Ignarro played a key role in identifying nitric oxide as a natural agent in the relaxation of smooth muscle cells, including those lining the inside of blood vessels. This was the first discovery that a gas can act as a signaling molecule in mammalian tissues, according to the Nobel Assembly.

The discovery has relevance for a wide range of health conditions, including heart disease, pulmonary hypertension, and male erectile dysfunction.

Ignarro’s group was the first to report the mechanism by which nitric oxide, the active agent in nitroglycerin, causes dilation of blood vessels. These observations contributed importantly to the development of medications such as Viagra, which foster relaxation of vascular smooth muscle.

Thursday’s lecture is the fourth in a series of Nobel laureate lecturers sponsored by the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics.

The lectureship was established in honor of Dr. Earl Sutherland, a former member of the department who was awarded the 1971 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discoveries related to cellular signaling and hormone action.

A reception will follow immediately after the lecture in the south lobby of Light Hall. For more information, contact Sharron Francis, Ph.D., at 2-4383, or Jackie Corbin, Ph.D., at 2-4384.