Nobel laureate to join science faculty

A Nobel laureate in medicine will join the University’s science team this spring, a first for GW that will likely boost its reputation as a research institution.

Top administrators welcomed biochemist Ferid Murad with the distinction of University professor – the highest title professors at GW can hold – in a ceremony Tuesday in the Jack Morton Auditorium.

Hiring a Nobel laureate is a seminal moment for any university, often elevating the school’s reputation within the academic community and on collegiate rankings.

“Today marks a historic day at the George Washington University and the school of medicine,” said Dr. Jeffrey Akman, interim dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and vice provost for Health Affairs.

Murad received the Nobel Prize in medicine along with two other researchers in 1998 for his research of nitric oxide and the discovery of its role in the cardiovascular system. The researchers learned that nitric oxide is a “signalling molecule,” according to the Nobel Prize’s website, that controls the process by which blood vessels relax and widen.

Murad’s work at GW will officially begin in April. He will continue his research while mentoring graduate and medical students. He will also teach an undergraduate course.

University President Steven Knapp said the Nobel laureate would bring “deep experience in academic medicine, research and entrepreneurship” to GW.

“[Murad] brings together our passion for service, research and intellectual involvement,” Knapp said.

Murad said in an interview after the ceremony he has many plans for his time at GW, like cancer and stem cell research and bringing a “novel course” to undergraduate students.

Murad said he will work alongside Dr. Rakesh Kumar, chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in his undergraduate course that will host seminars from “prominent scientists.”

“It’s an opportunity to really hear some interesting stuff from some really talented people,” Murad said.

While Murad said coming to GW was a change at “a good time,” he also credited a major part of his move to Kumar, a friend and colleague while in Texas.

Murad is currently director emeritus of the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and holds other leadership roles at UT. He was previously part of the faculty of Northwestern University and the University of Virginia.

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