The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1998
Born: 14 September 1936, Whiting, IN, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX, USA
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system."
Prize share: 1/3
Ferid Murad's father emigrated from Albania and his mother was American. Ferid grew up in Whiting, Indiana, where his parents operated a restaurant. After studying at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, and doctoral studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, he has worked at several American universities, including the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and Stanford University in California, where he did his Nobel Prize-awarded research. Ferid Murad is married and has five children.
Ever since the days of Alfred Nobel, it has been known that nitroglycerin causes blood vessels to expand. Ferid Murad studied how nitroglycerin activated an enzyme that formed cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP), which in turn caused blood vessels to expand. In 1976 Ferid Murad was able to show that nitroglycerin produced this effect by emitting nitrous oxide (N2O). The discovery represented a new principle for transferring signals between cells; a gas as a signal-transferring molecule had never been observed before.