Louis J. Ignarro (born May 31, 1941) is an American pharmacologist. For demonstrating the signaling properties of nitric oxide, he was co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Robert F. Furchgott and Ferid Murad. Born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, his parents were Italian immigrants and his father was a carpenter in Torre del Greco, near Naples. Ignarro grew up inLong Beach, NY, which is a suburb of New York City, NY on the south shore of Long Island, NY. Ignarro received his first chemistry set as a gift at the age of 8.
He is an avid cyclist and marathoner, having completed 13 marathons. Ignarro has published multiple books for lay audiences about health and wellness focusing on the benefits of increasing nitric oxide production. He is a frequent public speaker on these and related topics. He is the founder of the Nitric Oxide Society, and founder and editor-in-chief of Nitric Oxide Biology and Chemistry. Ignarro holds a B.S. in pharmacy, Columbia University, 1962, and a Ph.D. in pharmacology, University of Minnesota, School of Medicine, 1966. He also received a postdoctoral fellowship in chemical pharmacology from National Institutes of Health in 1968.
Currently, he is professor of pharmacology at the UCLA School of Medicine's department of molecular and medical pharmacology in Los Angeles, which he joined in 1985. Before relocating to California, he was a professor of pharmacology at Tulane UniversitySchool of Medicine, New Orleans, for 12 years. Ignarro has also previously worked as a staff scientist, research department, for the pharmaceutical division of CIBA-GEIGY Corporation in New York. Ignarro has published numerous research articles.
He received the Basic Research Prize of the American Heart Association in 1998. This was in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular science. That same year, he was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and the following year, into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Because nitric oxide is indirectly involved in the action of this drug, he is sometimes referred to as the "Father of Viagra".
Ignarro attended Central Grade School and Long Beach High School. A strong interest in science led Ignarro to Columbia University where he studied chemistry and pharmacology and in 1962 received a bachelor's degree in pharmacy. Ignarro then attended the University of Minnesota where he received a Ph.D. in pharmacology. His university studies also concentrated in chemistry, enzymology and cardiovascular physiology, which resulted in several published papers. While at the University of Minnesota, Ignarro studied under eventual Nobel Prize winning chemist Paul Boyer.
Ignarro's work continued at the NIH in the fields he'd studied, collaborating with many other scientists to discover regulatory mechanisms of the cardiovascular system that would lead to his most famous work. This was his first time to apply his education outside of an academic setting. In 1968, Ignarro left the NIH to work for Geigy Pharmaceuticals. With this company, Ignarro helped develop new drugs and was able to continue research into new areas of pharmacology including cyclic GMP. After Geigy merged with Ciba Pharmaceuticals, Ignarro decided to move back to the world of academia, this time as a professor.
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