Ignarro, Louis Joseph, 1941–. American pharmacologist, b. Brooklyn, N.Y., Ph.D. Univ. of Minnesota, 1966. He was on the faculty at Tulane Univ. from 1979 to 1985, when he became a professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. Ignarro was a co-recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Robert F. Furchgott and Ferid Murad for discovering that nitric oxide is a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system. Following Furchgott's discovery of a substance of unknown nature that relaxes the blood vessels, known at the time as endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF), Ignarro performed a series of analyses that showed that EDRF was nitric oxide. It is now known that this common air pollutant has the ability to protect the heart, stimulate the brain, and kill bacteria. The work of the three later led to the development of sildenafil (Viagra), an anti-impotence drug (see impotence).
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