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UT Southwestern Nobel Prize Recipients:

Drs. Michael S. Brown & Joseph L. Goldstein  //  1985

Cholesterol Regulation

Drs. Brown and Goldstein shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985 for their discoveries of how the body regulates cholesterol and the treatment of diseases caused by abnormally elevated cholesterol levels in the blood. They found that human cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that remove cholesterol from the blood and that when LDL receptors are not present in sufficient numbers, individuals become at risk for cholesterol-related diseases. It was a pioneering discovery that would lead to the development of statins, which help regulate cholesterol, improve the quality of life for millions of people, and save lives.

Dr. Johann Deisenhofer  //  1988

Membrane Protein Structure

Dr. Deisenhofer shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1988 for his use of X-ray crystallography to describe the structure of a protein involved in photosynthesis. One of the most fundamental processes of life is photosynthesis, which uses energy from sunlight to make sugars out of water and carbon dioxide, providing nourishment for plant life to exist. Studying bacteria, researchers discovered how energy is converted through a series of proteins that transport electrons and were then able to create a model and determine the three-dimensional structure for the photosynthetic reaction center. Their work provided unique insight into photosynthesis, helping scientists understand how energy is transferred into biological systems.

Dr. Bruce A. Beutler  //  2011

Innate Immunity

Dr. Beutler shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2011 for his discovery of how the immune system is activated. When bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms attack the body, receptor proteins recognize such microorganisms and activate innate immunity, the first step in the body’s immune response. Through a series of experiments, Dr. Beutler revealed how cells detect infection and how the innate immune system is activated in response to infection. His work helped open new avenues for the development of therapies against infections, cancer, and inflammatory diseases.