Louis J. Ignarro

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Primary Section: 23, Physiology and Pharmacology
Secondary Section: 21, Biochemistry
Membership Type:
Member (elected 1999)


A native of Brooklyn, NY, Dr. Ignarro studied chemistry/pharmacy at Columbia University (1958-1962) before earning his PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota (1966). He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in chemical pharmacology at the NIH. Recruited by Ciba-Geigy Pharmaceuticals, his work led to the development of diclofenac (VoltarenR).  In 1973, he left drug industry for academia, first Tulane University, then UCLA. In 1995, Dr. Ignarro became Distinguished Professor of Pharmacology at UCLA, where he currently serves as Professor Emeritus.  At UCLA, he received 13 consecutive annual Golden Apple teaching awards from medical students. His basic research on nitric oxide led to the development of Viagra in 1998.  Dr. Ignarro was awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, shared with Robert F. Furchgott and Ferid Murad, “for their discovery that nitric oxide acts as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system”.  He also has received the American Heart Association’s Basic Research Prize and Distinguished Scientist Award “for the advancement of cardiovascular science”, the Roussel UCLAF Prize in France “for cell communication and signaling”, the CIBA Award for Hypertension Research, the Canadian Medal of Merit, and the Golden Plate Award “for outstanding contributions in cardiovascular research”. 

Research Interests

Dr. Ignarro is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at UCLA School of Medicine, having retired in 2013. He no longer has any research or teaching responsibilities at UCLA, but collaborates with colleagues at other institutions on basic research programs involving nitric oxide and cyclic GMP. His work on nitric oxide as a signaling molecule has evolved to include hydrogen sulfide and polysulfides as signaling molecules.

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