News Centre

11 Sep 2007

The Shaw Laureate in Life Science and Medicine 2007 to Lecture at CUHK onSeven Transmembrane Receptors

11 Sep 2007

Professor Robert J. Lefkowitz, The Shaw Laureate in Life Science and Medicine 2007, will present at the Lecture Theatre, Shaw College of The Chinese University of Hong Kong a lecture entitled, “Seven Transmembrane Receptors” at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, 13 September 2007.

Professor Lefkowitz is awarded the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine for his relentless elucidation of the major receptor system that mediates the response of cells and organs to drugs and hormones. Professor Lefkowitz is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and a Professor of Biochemistry at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, USA.

He will describe how his development of novel technologies for studying the receptors, for purifying them, and for cloning their genes has led to an explosion of knowledge about the receptors and has greatly facilitated the development of many new drugs. Amongst the most important insights was the key discovery in 1986, that the β2-adrenergic receptor for adrenaline had a characteristic structure in which its polypeptide chain crossed the plasma membrane seven times, and that this structure was shared with the visual pigment rhodopsin. These findings immediately suggested that all such receptors might share this characteristic structure and be members of the same gene “superfamily”. This breakthrough spurred research in laboratories around the world, which then led to the cloning of genes for essentially all members of the huge gene family. Also described will be mechanisms which regulate receptor function leading to their “desensitization” or diminished responsiveness when they are persistently stimulated. Recent discoveries about these regulatory systems which have the potential to lead to an entirely new form of therapeutics will also be described.

Established in 2002, the Shaw Prize is an international award managed and administered by The Shaw Prize Foundation based in Hong Kong. The Prize honours individuals who have achieved significant breakthrough in academic and scientific research or application and whose work has resulted in a positive and profound impact on mankind.

The Shaw Prize consists of three annual prizes: Astronomy, Life Science and Medicine, and Mathematical Sciences, each prize bearing a monetary award of one million US dollars. The Fourth Shaw Prize Award was presented today at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Mr. Henry Tang Ying-yen, Acting Chief Executive of the HKSAR, China officiated at the ceremony. The Prize in Astronomy was awarded to Professor Peter Goldreich and the Prize in Mathematical Sciences was shared by Professor Robert Langlands and Professor Richard Taylor.