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Robert F. Furchgott

Robert Francis Furchgott
Born June 4, 1916
Charleston, South Carolina
Died May 19, 2009 (aged 92)
Seattle, Washington
Citizenship American
Nationality United States
Ethnicity Ashkenazi Jewish
Fields biochemistry
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998

Robert Francis Furchgott (June 4, 1916 – May 19, 2009) was a Nobel Prize-winning American biochemist.

Furchgott was born in Charleston, SC, to Arthur Furchgott (December 1884 - January 1971) and Pena Sorentrue Furchgott. He graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1937 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, received his Ph.D in biochemistry at Northwestern University in 1940. He was faculty member of Washington University School of Medicine from 1949 to 1956. From 1956 to 1988, he was professor of pharmacology at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center.

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 was important in the creation of Viagra.

From 1989 to 2004, Furchgott was a professor of pharmacology at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

Aside from the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine he received in 1998, Furchgott has also received a Gairdner Foundation International Award for his groundbreaking discoveries (1991) and the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1996), the latter with Ferid Murad.

Furchgott, who was Jewish,[1] lived in Brooklyn. He was married to Lenore Mandelbaum (February 1915 - April 1983)[2] from 1941 until she died aged 68. They had three daughters: Jane, Susan and Terry. He later married Margaret Gallagher Roth, who predeceased him. 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[3] in Seattle. He is survived by his three daughters, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.


  • Raju, T N (2000), "The Nobel chronicles. 1998: Robert Francis Furchgott (b 1911), Louis J Ignarro (b 1941), and Ferid Murad (b 1936).", Lancet 356 (9226): 346, 2000 Jul 22, PMID 11071225  
  • 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 142 (52): 2828–30, 1998 Dec 26, PMID 10065255  
  • Laufs, U; Erdmann, E (1998), "Nitric oxide as a signal molecule in the cardiovascular system. Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1998", Dtsch. Med. Wochenschr. 123 (51-52): 1562–5, 1998 Dec 18, PMID 9893684  
  • 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", Ugeskr. Laeg. 160 (52): 7571–8, 1998 Dec 21, PMID 9889673  
  • Nielsen, T T; Sørensen, K E (1998), "Discovery of "endogenous nitroglycerin", NO, as cellular signal molecule", Ugeskr. Laeg. 160 (52): 7567, 1998 Dec 21, PMID 9889670  
  • Mitka, M (1998), "1998 Nobel Prize winners are announced: three discoverers of nitric oxide activity.", JAMA 280 (19): 1648, 1998 Nov 18, doi:10.1001/jama.280.19.1648, PMID 9831980  
  • 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 95 (43): 4703–8, 1998 Oct 21, PMID 9821753  
  • 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 276 (14): 1186–8, 1996 Oct 9, doi:10.1001/jama.276.14.1186, PMID 8827976  

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