Robert F. Furchgott

Robert F. Furchgott
Born Robert Francis Furchgott
June 4, 1916
Charleston, South Carolina
Died May 19, 2009(2009-05-19) (aged 92)
Seattle, Washington
Citizenship American
Nationality United States
Fields biochemistry
Institutions SUNY Downstate Medical Center 19562009
Washington University in St. Louis 19491956
Cornell University 19401949
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998
Spouse Lenore Mandelbaum (19411983; her death; 3 children)
Margaret Gallagher Roth (?2006; her death)


Robert Francis Furchgott (June 4, 1916 May 19, 2009) was a Nobel Prize-winning American biochemist who contributed to the discovery of nitric oxide as a transient cellular signal in mammalian systems.

Early life and education

Furchgott was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to Arthur Furchgott (December 1884 January 1971), a department store owner, and Pena (Sorentrue) Furchgott. He graduated with a degree in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1937), and went on to earn a Ph.D in biochemistry at Northwestern University (1940), immediately joining a medical faculty thereafter.


Furchgott was faculty member of Cornell University Medical College from 1940 to 1949, of Washington University School of Medicine from 1949 to 1956, and State University of New York Downstate Medical Center from 1956 to 2009, as professor of pharmacology.

In 1978, Furchgott discovered a substance in endothelial cells that relaxes blood vessels, calling it endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF). By 1986, he had worked out EDRF's nature and mechanism of action, and determined that EDRF was in fact nitric oxide (NO), an important compound in many aspects of cardiovascular physiology. This research is important in explaining a wide variety of neuronal, cardiovascular, and general physiologic processed of central importance in human health and disease.

In addition to receiving the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of nitric oxide as a new cellular signal—shared in 1998 with Louis Ignarro and Ferid Murad [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] —Furchgott also received a Gairdner Foundation International Award (1991) for his groundbreaking discoveries, and the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1996), the latter also with Ferid Murad. [8]

Personal life

Furchgott, who was Jewish,[9] lived for most of his married and career life in Woodmere, NY (Long Island). He was married to Lenore Mandelbaum (February 1915 April 1983)[10] from 1941 until she died aged 68. They had three daughters: Jane, Susan and Terry. His daughter, Susan, was a prolific artist in the San Francisco counter culture and a co-founder of the Kerista Commune (she was also known as "Even Eve" and "Eve Furchgott"). Robert Furchgott later married Margaret Gallagher Roth, who died March 14, 2006.[11] He served as a professor emeritus at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. In 2008 he moved to Seattle's Ravenna neighborhood. Furchgott died on May 19, 2009[12] in Seattle. He is survived by his three daughters, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

See also

Further reading


  1. Raju, T N (2000), "The Nobel chronicles. 1998: Robert Francis Furchgott (b 1911), Louis J Ignarro (b 1941), and Ferid Murad (b 1936).", Lancet (published Jul 22, 2000), 356 (9226), p. 346, doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(05)73635-7, PMID 11071225
  2. Rabelink, A J (1998), "Nobel prize in Medicine and Physiology 1998 for the discovery of the role of nitric oxide as a signalling molecule", Nederlands tijdschrift voor geneeskunde (published Dec 26, 1998), 142 (52), pp. 2828–30, PMID 10065255
  3. Laufs, U; Erdmann, E (1998), "Nitric oxide as a signal molecule in the cardiovascular system. Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1998", Dtsch. Med. Wochenschr. (published Dec 18, 1998), 123 (51–52), pp. 1562–5, doi:10.1055/s-0029-1237297, PMID 9893684
  4. Hansson, G K; Jörnvall, H; Lindahl, S G (1998), "The Nobel Prize 1998 in physiology or medicine. Nitrogen oxide as a signal molecule in the cardiovascular system", Ugeskrift for Læger (published Dec 21, 1998), 160 (52), pp. 7571–8, PMID 9889673
  5. Nielsen, T T; Sørensen, K E (1998), "Discovery of "endogenous nitroglycerin", NO, as cellular signal molecule", Ugeskrift for Læger (published Dec 21, 1998), 160 (52), p. 7567, PMID 9889670
  6. Mitka, M (1998), "1998 Nobel Prize winners are announced: three discoverers of nitric oxide activity", JAMA (published Nov 18, 1998), 280 (19), p. 1648, doi:10.1001/jama.280.19.1648, PMID 9831980
  7. Hansson, G K; Jörnvall, H; Lindahl, S G (1998), "1998 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Nitric oxide as a signal molecule in the cardiovascular system", Lakartidningen (published Oct 21, 1998), 95 (43), pp. 4703–8, PMID 9821753
  8. Furchgott, R.F. (1996), "The 1996 Albert Lasker Medical Research Awards. The discovery of endothelium-derived relaxing factor and its importance in the identification of nitric oxide", JAMA (published Oct 9, 1996), 276 (14), pp. 1186–8, doi:10.1001/jama.276.14.1186, PMID 8827976
  9. "Seymour "Sy" Brody's". Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  10. "RootsWeb: Database Index". Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  11. "Paid Notice - Deaths ROTH, MARGARET - Paid Death Notice -". New York Times. 2006-03-17. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  12. "SUNY Downstate Medical Center". Retrieved 2015-08-11.
  13. "Robert Furchgott". Telegraph. Retrieved 2015-08-11.
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