US pharmacologist who with US pharmacologists Robert F Furchgott and Louis J Ignarro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1998 for the discovery that nitric oxide acts as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system.
Murad discovered in 1977 that nitroglycerin and related heart drugs caused the body to produce the colourless, odourless gas, nitric oxide (NO). The action of NO was to relax smooth muscle cells causing the blood vessels to dilate. He suggested that NO could participate in the regulation of important cellular functions. Furchgott and Ignarro built on this work to show that NO acts as a signal molecule in the body. This was the first discovery that a gas could perform this function. This discovery has already led to the development of the anti-impotence drug Viagra and has increased research into NO, which could lead to improvements in the treatment of heart disease, cancer, and shock.
Murad was born in Whiting, Indiana, USA. He received his MD and PhD degrees from Western Reserve University, now known as Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, in 1965. Murad was professor of pharmacology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, from 1975 until 1981, when he became professor at the departments of internal medicine and pharmacology at Stanford University, California, a post he retained until 1989. Murad was vice-president of Abbot Laboratories, Illinois, from 1990 until 1992 and became president of the Molecular Geriatrics Corporation, Lake Bluff, Illinois, from 1993 until 1995. He joined the medical school of the University of Texas, Houston, in 1997.