Dr. Louis Ignarro Nobel Prize Facts

Dr. Louis Ignarro Nobel Prize Facts

"Only in America could the son of an uneducated carpenter receive the Nobel Prize in Medicine"

- Dr. Louis Ignarro

Dr. Louis Ignarro

A once relentless 8-year son of immigrants pleaded for his first chemistry set. Dr. Louis Ignarro has since created a Nobel Prize legacy in cardiovascular research with his discovery and subsequent work on nitric oxide. 

Many studies now confirm the cardiovascular benefits of the important molecule nitric oxide

To honor Dr. Louis Ignarro and the world of research he’s inspired on nitric oxide, we’re highlighting the facts about his work and contributions. 


Nobel Price in Physiology or Medicine

In 1998, Louis Ignarro, Robert F. Furchgott, and Ferid Murad won the Nobel Prize in medicine. Their research showed how nitric oxide supports cardiovascular health. While folks across the globe may disagree with the “only in America” statement, the outcome of this research displayed how three pharmacologists from diverse backgrounds can come together with one common goal to improve global health. 

In his work, Ignarro discovered that nitric oxide is produced in blood vessels and signals vessels to expand and contract, thus controlling blood flow. In addition to this, he also discovered that nitric oxide is a neurotransmitting gas.

Since these cardiovascular discoveries, many more links to nitric oxide have been made. For example, how nitric oxide assists in brain function, fights infection as an antibacterial and anti-microbial, decreases muscle soreness, assists in metabolic processes, increases exercise performance, and so much more.

1998 Robert F. Furchgott and Ferid Murad were awarded jointly for their discovery of the nitric oxide molecule in the cardiovascular system. 

Educational Background and Teaching 

  • Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry and Pharmacy at Columbia University in New York City
  • Doctorate in Pharmacology from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis
  • Professor of Pharmacology at Tulane University in New Orleans
  • Professor Emeritus of Pharmacology at the UCLA School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology
  • Part-time professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Dr. Louis Ignarro’s Key Research 

1981: Mechanism of vascular smooth muscle relaxation by organic nitrates, nitrites, nitroprusside and nitric oxide: Evidence for the involvement of Snitrosothiols as active intermediates.

1982: Guanylate cyclase from bovine lung. A kinetic analysis of the regulation of the purified soluble enzyme by protoporphyrin IX, heme, and nitrosyl-heme

1987: Endothelium-derived relaxing factor from pulmonary artery and vein possesses pharmacological and chemical properties that are identical to those for nitric oxide radical

1987: Endothelium-derived relaxing factor produced and released from artery and vein is nitric oxide.

1990: Nitric oxide and cyclic GMP formation upon electrical field stimulation cause relaxation of corpus cavernosum smooth muscle

1992: Nitric oxide as a mediator of relaxation of the corpus cavernosum in response to nonadrenergic, noncholinergic neurotransmission

1994: Nitric oxide inhibits neuronal nitric oxide synthase by interacting with the heme prosthetic group. Role of tetrahydrobiopterin in modulating the inhibitory action of nitric oxide

1994: Formation of free nitric oxide from L-arginine by nitric oxide synthase: direct enhancement of generation by superoxide dismutase

1996: Inhibitors of the proteasome pathway interfere with induction of nitric oxide synthase in macrophages by blocking at he ctivation of nuclear factor-kappa B

2000: Nitric Oxide as a Unique Signaling Molecule in the Cardiovascular System

2001: Role of the arginine-nitric oxide pathway in the regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation

2001: Nitric oxide inhibits ornithine decarboxylase via S-nitrosylation of cysteine 360 in the active site of the enzyme

2001: Role of p42/p44 mitogen-activated protein kinase and p21waf1/cip1 in the regulation of vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation by nitric oxide

2003: Beneficial effects of antioxidants and L-arginine on oxidation-sensitive gene expression and endothelial NO synthase activity at sites of disturbed shear stress

2003: Estrogen-related receptor alpha 1 up-regulates endothelial nitric oxide synthase expression

2005: Rapid nitric oxide mediated S-nitrosylation of estrogen receptor: Regulation of estrogen-dependent gene transcription

2006: Pomegranate juice protects nitric oxide against oxidative destruction and enhances the biological actions of nitric oxide

2010: NO Stupid Questions - Profiles in Cardiovascular Science, an interview with Dr. Louis Ignarro

Dr. Louis Ignarro Awards at a Glance

From this great swath of nitric oxide research and discovery, Dr. Ignarro has been recognized with numerous awards in addition to his 1998 Nobel Prize. Below is a highlighted, chronological list of some of those recognitions. 

1973: Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association Foundation Research Award

1975-1977: Arthritis Foundation Research Award

1994: Roussel Uclaf Prize for Cell Communication and Signaling (recognizing that nitric oxide is a radical gas and a biological mediator in mammals

1995: CIBA Award for Hypertension Research (discovery of the roles of Nitric Oxide and cyclic GMP in vascular function)

1998: Nobel Prize in medicine for the discovery of “nitric oxide as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system”

1998: Research Prize of the American Heart Association (contributions to the advancement of cardiovascular science)

2008: Distinguished Scientist Award (American Heart Association)

2007: Medal of Merit (International Academy of Cardiovascular Sciences)

2008: Canadian Medal of Merit

2014: Lifetime Achievement Award

2014: Golden Plate Award & Induction into the International Academy of Achievement


The Nitric Oxide Society

Dr. Ignarro is the founder of the Nitric Oxide Society on a mission to increase research, publishing, education on the role of nitric oxide in health. 

The Nitric Oxide Society was founded in 1996 and is concerned with disseminating important research to the general public about nitric oxide. The Society’s goal is to develop education and training to studies in the research field of nitric oxide and assist in publishing scientific articles that proliferate the topic. 

Exploring books by Dr. Louis Ignarro

Dr. Ignarro has contributed his wealth of knowledge to the scientific community by publishing his research for further investigation into the study of nitric oxide. What he has also done as a service to humanity is make that knowledge accessible through his books. Below is a list of some of his most popular books.

The New Heart Health: Discover the Power of the Endothelium. Dr. Louis Ignarro; Dr. Andrew Myers. Published by Health Value Publications (2013). ISBN 10: 1613890060 / ISBN 13: 9781613890066.

NO More Heart Disease: How Nitric Oxide Can Prevent – Even Reverse – Heart Disease and Strokes. New York: St. Martin's Press (2005). ISBN 0-312-33582-2.

Nitric Oxide: Biology and Pathobiology. Academic Press (2009). ISBN 0-12-373866-0.

Health Is Wealth: 10 Power Nutrients That Increase Your Odds Of Living To 100. Health Value Publications (2009). ISBN 0-9790229-1-6.

Health Is Wealth: Performance Nutrition. Health Value Publications (2011). ISBN 978-1-61389-002-8.

Top Videos Featuring Louis Ignarro

Dr. Louis has been interviewed and featured in videos that address cardiovascular health and nitric oxide. Giving tips and insights, below, you will find some of the top videos featuring Dr. Louis Ignarro.


Nobel Prize Interview with Dr. Louis Ignarro


Connecting with Dr. Louis Ignarro

Follow the life and work of Dr. Ignarro by visiting his blog and social media profiles. Here are some ways to stay in touch and be up to date with one of the founding leaders in nitric oxide research.

Website -  http://www.drignarro.com/

Twitter - https://twitter.com/drignarro

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/DrIgnarro

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/dr.louisignarro

Thank you for your contributions, to science our understanding of nitric oxide, and ultimately, our improved health, Dr. Louis Ignarro. 

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