Former medical resident here wins Nobel Prize

Brian K. Kobilka, MD, a former medical resident at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, is the co-winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Kobilka, currently professor and chair of molecular and cellular physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, was a medical resident here from 1981 to 1984.

“We’re very proud that one of our former trainees has received such a great honor,” says Larry J. Shapiro, MD, executive vice chancellor and dean of Washington University School of Medicine. “The important work for which Dr. Kobilka is being recognized has the potential to aid the development of drugs for diseases such as cancer, diabetes and depression. On behalf of Washington University, I offer our heartfelt congratulations.”


During his training in St. Louis, Kobilka was a resident along with Clay F. Semenkovich, MD, now the Herbert S. Gasser Professor of Medicine, professor of cell biology and physiology and director of the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research at the School of Medicine.

I am very happy for Brian,” Semenkovich says. “In addition to being incredibly smart, he is very humble, charming and kind. He’s also kept in touch with many of us at Washington University over the years, and we couldn’t be happier that he’s receiving such a prestigious award.”

Kobilka shares the Nobel Prize with Robert Lefkowitz, MD, professor of biochemistry and of medicine at Duke University. The two were selected for what the Nobel Prize committee described as “groundbreaking research” into the “fine-tuned system of interactions between billions of cells” in the human body.

They were honored for helping to explain the inner workings of G-protein-coupled receptors, which allow cells in the body to respond to chemical messages. Targeting those receptors has the potential to improve treatments for problems in the central nervous system, the heart, inflammatory conditions and metabolic disorders.