Nobel Prize winner speaks at Leonard Ford lectureship

Vandy Manyeh
Staff Writer

It all started in Little Falls, Minn., a city where scientists are held in high esteem. That led Dr. Brian Kobilka to pursue a career as a physiologist. 

And 57 years after his birth, he went on to become a hometown hero by winning the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

On Sept. 9, students and the entire Minnesota State University, Mankato community filled the Ostrander Auditorium to listen to Kobilka at the 30th Annual Leonard A. Ford Lectureship. Ford had a distinguished career as a professor of science and mathematics at MNSU. 

In Kobilka’s lecture, called “From Bedside to Bench and Back, My Career as a Physician-Scientist,” he detailed his career in Crystallography and talked about his work with a special kind of receptors in the body — G protein-coupled receptors.

In short, G protein-coupled receptors help with the communication network between organs in the body. Take, for example, the way in which the brain responds to environmental stimuli.

Since 1995, Kobilka has been working on the structure for G protein-coupled receptors. The structure has given scientists and students of science a deeper understanding of how G protein-coupled receptors work, making them a target of all pharmaceuticals.

“I believe that this structure had something to do with me being awarded the Nobel Prize,” Kobilka said. 

Kobilka steers the affairs of Stanford University’s Kobilka Lab. He received his medical degree from Yale School of Medicine and a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry from the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Header photo by Mansoor Ahmad | MSU Reporter.

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