Who is Michael S. Brown?
Michael S. Brown is an American geneticist who won a share of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985. Best known for his work on the metabolism of cholesterol in the human body, he worked in collaboration with Joseph L. Goldstein to research on cholesterol metabolism and discovered that human cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that extract cholesterol from the bloodstream. The duo then worked together to develop new drugs with cholesterol-lowering compounds which is today used by millions of people around the world. The son of a salesman, he graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania before earning his MD from the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine. After getting his degree he spent the next two years as intern and resident in Internal Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. This is where he met Joseph L. Goldstein, a fellow intern, with who he formed a long term personal friendship and professional collaboration. Brown and Goldstein began their research on cholesterol metabolism in humans and over the years made many significant discoveries in the field and also developed new drugs to manage cholesterol. In recognition of their work, the duo was honored with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985.
Childhood & Early Life
Michael Stuart Brown was born on April 13, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York, USA. His father, Harvey Brown, was a textile salesman while his mother, Evelyn, was a housewife.
He attended Cheltenham High School, where he became interested in both science and journalism. As a 13 year old he obtained an amateur radio operating license.
He went to the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1962. During his time at the college he served as the features editor and briefly as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper ‘The Daily Pennsylvanian.’
He proceeded to study medicine from the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine and received his MD in 1966. He served his internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, where he met another intern, Joseph L. Goldstein who became his friend.
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In 1968, Brown moved to the National Institutes of Health as a Clinical Associate in gastroenterology and hereditary disease. There he performed research on gastroenterology, hereditary disease and metabolic regulation before joining the Laboratory of Biochemistry, headed by Earl R. Stadtman.
He moved to the division of Gastroenterology in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas in 1971. His friend Goldstein joined him the following year.
Brown successfully solubilized and partially purified 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase, an enzyme that catalyzes the rate-controlling enzyme in cholesterol biosynthesis.
His formal collaboration with Goldstein began in 1972. Initially the young scientists maintained separate laboratories and combined the laboratories in 1974. Their scientific collaboration would soon lead to several significant medical discoveries.
Throughout the 1970s Brown and Goldstein conducted research on the genetic factors responsible for high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream. Their research led to the discovery that human cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that extract cholesterol from the bloodstream.
Over the course of their research, they also uncovered the process of Receptor-mediated endocytosis (RME), also called clathrin-mediated endocytosis, which is a fundamental aspect of cell biology. They also performed research on Familial hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder characterized by high cholesterol levels.
Brown rose through the ranks of the Southwestern faculty, becoming an Associate Professor of Internal Medicine in 1974, a professor in 1976, and the Paul J. Thomas Professor of Medicine and Genetics, and Director of the Center for Genetic Disease in 1977.
Brown and Goldstein continued their research in the 1980s and worked together on the development of drugs that effectively lowered blood cholesterol levels. In 1985, Brown was appointed Regental Professor of the University of Texas.
In the 1990s, Brown and Goldstein discovered sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs), which control the levels of cholesterol and fatty acids in the body.
Along with Goldstein, Michael S. Brown continued to be actively engaged in research. The two men have given many lectures together and are among the most highly cited scientists in the world.
Brown is a member of the Board of Scientific Directors at The Scripps Research Institute and is also on the prestigious Prix Galien USA Committee that "recognizes the technical, scientific and clinical research skills necessary to develop innovative medicines."
Michael S. Brown in collaboration with Joseph L. Goldstein performed important work on the metabolism of cholesterol in the human body. Over the course of their research they discovered genetic markers and later helped in the development of statin drugs with cholesterol-lowering compounds.
Awards & Achievements
In 1984, Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein were jointly awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize for Biology or Biochemistry.
Brown and Goldstein were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1985 "for their discoveries concerning the regulation of cholesterol metabolism."
In 1985, he won the William Allan Award of the American Society of Human Genetics and the Albert D. Lasker Award in Basic Medical Research.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Alice Lapin, a childhood friend, in 1964. The couple has two daughters.