ASBMB Nobel Prize Winners

1985 – Michael S. Brown

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Brown

Michael Stuart Brown (1941 - present) shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Joseph L. Goldstein in 1985 for describing the regulation of cholesterol metabolism. Brown and Goldstein discovered that human cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that extract cholesterol from the bloodstream. A lack of sufficient LDL receptors is implicated in familial hypercholesterolemia (presence of high levels of cholesterol in the blood), which predisposes heavily for cholesterol-related diseases. In addition to explaining the underlying pathology of this disease, Brown and Goldstein’s work uncovered a fundamental aspect of cell biology: receptor-mediated endocytosis, a process used by cells to absorb material (here, LDL) from the outside. The findings also led to the development of statin drugs, which are used to lower cholesterol.