Photo of Joseph L. Goldstein

Joseph L. Goldstein

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For their historic discovery of the basic mechanisms controlling cholesterol metabolism, opening the way to a new pharmacologic approach to the treatment of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death and disability in the Western world.

Sometimes two people cross paths and it changes countless lives. When the Chairman of the Department of Internal Medicine at Southwestern Medical School encouraged Joseph Goldstein to pursue academic medicine as his career, he could not have known the implications of the advice. The chairman offered Goldstein a future faculty position, recognizing his potential in genetics. But at the time Goldstein was still in medical school.

In 1966, Goldstein would strike up a friendship with Michael Brown while they were both interns. The fateful meeting would have a dramatic impact on both of their lives not to mention millions of others. In 1985, the pair would win the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research into how a particular genetic defect can influence cholesterol. Specifically, they discovered LDL receptors and how they regulate cholesterol in the body. Ultimately, the findings would lay the foundation for the formation of statin drugs, changing the way doctors treated cholesterol to prevent heart disease. Later on, the two would discover the SREBP family of transcription factors, groundbreaking in cholesterol research as well.

Goldstein is currently at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, chairman of the Department of Molecular Genetics.

By Melissa Ayala