© The Nobel Foundation. Photo: U. Montan
Brian K. Kobilka
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012
Born: 30 May 1955, Little Falls, MN, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors."
Prize share: 1/2
Brian Kobilka was born and raised in Little Falls, Minnesota, where his father and grandfather worked as bakers. After studying at the University of Minnesota Duluth, he earned his medical degree from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. After completing his residency in St Louis, Missouri, he moved to Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he conducted his Nobel Prize-awarded research together with Robert Lefkowitz. He has been employed at Stanford University since 1989. Brian Kobilka is married with two children.
Communication between the cells in your body are managed by substances called hormones. Each cell has a small receiver known as a receptor, which is able to receive hormones. In the 1980s, Brian Kobilka successfully identified the gene that regulates the formation of the receptor for the hormone adrenaline. He and Robert Lefkowitz also discovered that the receptor was similar to receptors located in the eye that capture light. It was later discovered that there is an entire family of receptors that look and act in similar ways - "G-protein-coupled receptors". Approximately half of all medications used today make use of this kind of receptor.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.