Louis Ignarro is a Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at the UCLA School of Medicine and winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his groundbreaking discovery of the importance of Nitric Oxide in cardiovascular health.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Dr. Louis Ignarro has also received numerous other special awards for his research, including the Basic Research Prize of the American Heart Association, the CIBA award for Hypertension Research and the Roussel Uclaf Prize for Cell Communication and Signaling. He has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has published over 500 scholarly articles in his career.
For nearly 30 years Dr. Louis Ignarro's research has focused on the role of Nitric Oxide in the cardiovascular system. Among the most significant contributions from Dr. Ignarro's wealth of research is the discovery that Nitric Oxide is produced in the blood vessels and controls the flow of blood by signaling the vessels to expand and contract. A shortage of Nitric Oxide production, caused by poor diet and lack of physical activity, leads to the onset and increasing severity of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke, and high cholesterol.
In addition, Dr. Louis Ignarro's experiments in 1990 led to the discovery that Nitric Oxide is the neurotransmitter responsible for penile erection. The discovery made it possible to develop and market Viagra, the first oral medication for the effective treatment of erectile dysfunction. As a result of his role in this blockbuster drug, Dr. Louis Ignarro is sometimes known as "the Father of Viagra". In addition to continuing to lead an active team of researchers in his lab at UCLA, Dr. Ignarro now focuses on communicating the benefits of enhanced Nitric Oxide production to the general public. His goal is to wipe out heart disease using the scientific knowledge he has created, because his work proves that almost all cardiovascular disease is preventable.
Louis Ignarro was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941, the son of uneducated Italian immigrants. He received a B.Sc. in Chemistry and Pharmacy from Columbia University in 1962, a Ph.D. in Pharmacology from the University of Minnesota in 1966, and postdoctoral training in the Laboratory of Chemical Pharmacology at the NIH in 1966-1968. Dr. Louis Ignarro's life and story are particularly unique, because as he stated while testifying before Congress in 2000, only in America could the son of a carpenter receive the Nobel Prize in medicine. His story truly personifies the American Dream.