Bush honors Duke researcher

Posted September 29, 2008 10:49 a.m. EDT
Updated September 29, 2008 2:35 p.m. EDT

— President George W. Bush on Monday presented the National Medal of Science to Duke University researcher Robert Lefkowitz on Monday.

The National Medal is the nation's highest honor in science.

Lefkowitz, a professor of medicine and biochemistry, was honored for his discovery of seven transmembrane receptors, which help cells interpret chemical signals and respond appropriately. The receptors he discovered are the targets of almost half of the drugs on the market today, including antihistamines, ulcer medications and beta blockers for heart disease.

He and his group first identified, purified and cloned the genes for these receptors in the 1970s and 1980s, revealing the structure of the receptors, as well their functions and regulation. This work fundamentally altered the way in which numerous therapeutic agents have been developed.

Lefkowitz called receiving the National Medal “a great personal and professional honor.”