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Nobel laureate to talk on how statins work, why hearts attack

Mike Brown

Heart attacks: the No. 1 cause of death for Americans. Twenty million people worldwide take statin drugs to lower blood cholesterol and prevent them. Dr. Michael Brown, whose research paved the way for the development of statins, will explain how these drugs work and “Why Hearts Attack” in Cornell’s annual Ef Racker Lecture in Biology and Medicine.

His talk will be held Thursday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. in Call Alumni Auditorium, Kennedy Hall. A reception will follow in Kennedy Atrium. The talk is free and open to the public.

Along with his colleague, Dr. Joseph L. Goldstein, Brown received the Nobel Prize for Medicine or Physiology for discovering the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor, which controls cholesterol in blood and in cells. They showed that mutations in this receptor cause familial hypercholesterolemia, a disorder that leads to premature heart attacks. Their work laid the groundwork for statin drugs that block cholesterol synthesis, increase LDL receptors, lower blood cholesterol and prevent heart attacks.

“When you consider how many people take statins every day, and what that has meant for extending life span, the work of Mike Brown and his collaborator, Joe Goldstein, truly represents one of the greatest examples of how basic biomedical research can impact human health. It also beautifully epitomizes the life-long goals of Ef Racker’s own research,” said Richard Cerione, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Arts and Sciences and a co-host of the annual Ef Racker lecture series.

Brown received an M.D. in 1966 from the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Paul J. Thomas Professor of Molecular Genetics and Director of the Jonsson Center for Molecular Genetics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas.

On Friday, Oct. 21, Brown will offer a seminar on “How Cells Sense Sterols” at 4 p.m. in G-10 Biotech Building, followed by a reception. The seminar will be live streamed via WebEx; register at The seminar can also be viewed in G-01 Biotech Racker Room and 226 Weill Hall.

The Racker Lectureship is named for the late Efraim Racker, who was the Albert Einstein Professor of Biochemistry and chair of the Section of Biochemisty, Molecular and Cell Biology at Cornell.

Linda B. Glaser is a staff writer for the College of Arts and Sciences. 

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