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Duke MD-Scientist Wins Prestigious Medal for Medical Service

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Duke Health News 919-660-1306

Robert J. Lefkowitz, MD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at Duke University Medical Center, has been awarded the highest honor of the Association of American Physicians, the George M. Kober Medal.

Since 1925, the association has bestowed the award "for research in scientific medicine” that rises to the highest level of achievement.

Dr. Lefkowitz is being honored for his research into understanding the largest, most important, and most therapeutically accessible receptor system that controls the body's response to drugs and hormones. He will receive the medal at a ceremony on Saturday, April 16, 2011.

"It is wonderful to see Bob recognized in this way,” said Nancy Andrews, dean of the Duke University School of Medicine. “He has received many honors from many organizations, but this is particularly special because he was selected by a very distinguished group of physician-scientist colleagues who have watched his remarkable career unfold over the past four decades."

“I have served as a past president of the AAP, and for the 40 years I have attended meetings, I have always looked forward to the in-depth Kober medal presentation to a physician-scientist, so I find it hard to believe that I will be a recipient of the medal,” said Lefkowitz, who is a James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and of Biochemistry.

“I am used to seeing luminaries and leaders of medicine, internationally known, receive this award, and I am so honored and pleased to share in this event with family, friends, and so many colleagues.”

Dr. Lefkowitz, a Duke faculty member since 1973, is receiving the award for his concept, proof, and studies of G-protein-coupled receptors and related enzymes, proteins, and signaling pathways.

These receptors, which are located on the surface of the membranes surrounding cells, are the targets of almost half of the drugs on the market today. His work facilitated and fundamentally altered the way in which numerous drugs have been developed.

In 2008, Dr. Lefkowitz won the National Medal of Science for his contributions into the biological sciences and President Bush presented the medal at a White House Ceremony.

He also won the Shaw Prize for Life Science and Medicine and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, shared with two other researchers, among many other international and national awards and honorary doctorate of science degrees for his discoveries.

Two former Duke professors also have won this award: James Wyngaarden, MD, and Eugene Stead Jr., MD, both former chairs of the Department of Medicine.

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