Ignarro, Louis Joseph

Ignarro, Louis Joseph,

1941–. American pharmacologist, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., Ph.D. Univ. of Minnesota, 1966. He was on the faculty at Tulane Univ. from 1979 to 1985, when he became a professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. Ignarro was a co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Robert F. FurchgottFurchgott, Robert Francis,
1916–2009, American biochemist, b. Charleston, S.C., Ph.D. Northwestern Univ., 1940. Furchgott spent his entire career as a professor (1956–89) at the State Univ. of New York. With Louis J.
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 and Ferid MuradMurad, Ferid,
1936–, American pharmacologist, b. Whiting, Ind., M.D., Ph.D. Western Reserve Univ. (now Case Western Reserve Univ.), 1965. Murad taught at the Univ. of Virginia (1975–81), Stanford Univ. (1981–89), and Northwestern Univ.
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 for discovering that nitric oxide is a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system. Following Furchgott's discovery of a substance of unknown nature that relaxes the blood vessels, known at the time as endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF), Ignarro performed a series of analyses that showed that EDRF was nitric oxidenitric oxide
or nitrogen monoxide,
a colorless gas formed by the combustion of nitrogen and oxygen as given by the reaction: energy + N2 + O2 → 2NO; m.p. −163.6°C;; b.p. −151.8°C;.
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. It is now known that this common air pollutant has the ability to protect the heart, stimulate the brain, and kill bacteria. The work of the three later led to the development of sildenafil (Viagra), an anti-impotence drug (see impotenceimpotence
, inhibited sexual excitement in a man during sexual activity that, despite an unaffected desire for sex, results in inability to attain or maintain a penile erection. Known medically as male erectile dysfunction, it affects younger and older men alike.
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).