Photo of Robert J. Lefkowitz

Robert J. Lefkowitz

  • National Medal of Science
  • Biological Sciences

For his discovery of the seven transmembrane receptors, deemed the largest, most versatile, and most therapeutically accessible receptor signaling system, and for describing the general mechanism of their regulation, influencing all fields of medical practice.

Robert Lefkowitz on winning the National Medal of Science

What’s in a cell? Robert Lefkowitz set out to dive deep into the inner workings of the body’s function through receptor biology research, investigating the complexities of G protein–coupled receptors that motivate every day sight, smell and taste functions, to name a few.

From medical mysteries he read in the Bronx as a child, Lefkowitz set his sights on medicine by the third grade.

Called “hands on” by students, Lefkowitz encourages weekly mentorship, having produced over 200 graduate students and post-docs in biochemistry, immunology and medicine at the Lefkowitz lab at Duke University.

Lefkowitz has said, “I come to work every day with a sense of great anticipation and curiosity about what new discoveries and insights will come our way. Every question that we can answer poses several new ones that seem even more interesting than the one we’ve just answered.”

Most recently, his work has revealed insight into molecular mechanisms and signaling, while developing strategies for improving cardiac function using his experience as a trained cardiologist.

By Melissa Ayala