About Brian Kent Kobilka, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012
Brian Kent Kobilka (born May 1955) is an American Nobel Prize winning professor in the departments of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is also the co-founder of ConfometRx, a biotechnology company focusing on G protein-coupled receptors. He was named a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2011.
Dr. Kobilka, a Roman Catholic, attended St. Mary's Grade School in Little Falls, Minnesota, a part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and earned his M.D., cum laude, from Yale University School of Medicine. Following the completion of his residency in internal medicine at Barnes-Jewish Hospital (the principal teaching hospital of the Washington University School of Medicine, a part of Washington University in St. Louis, in St. Louis, Missouri), Dr. Kobilka worked in research as a postdoctoral fellow under his mentor, Dr. Robert Lefkowitz, at Duke University where he started work on cloning the β2-adrenergic receptor. Kobilka moved to Stanford in 1989. He was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator from 1987-2003.
Kobilka is best known for his research on the structure and activity of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs); in particular, work from Kobilka's laboratory determined the molecular structure of the β2-adrenergic receptor. This work has been highly cited by other scientists because GPCRs are important targets for pharmaceutical therapeutics, but notoriously difficult to work with in X-ray crystallography. Before, rhodopsin was the only G-protein coupled receptor where the structure had been determined at high resolution. The β2-adrenergic receptor structure was soon followed by the determination of the molecular structure of several other G-protein coupled receptors.
Kobilka is the 1994 recipient of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics John J. Abel Award in Pharmacology. His GPCR structure work was named "runner-up" for the 2007 "Breakthrough of the Year" award from Science. The work was, in part, supported by Kobilka's 2004 Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. He won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert Lefkowitz for his work on G protein-coupled receptors.
Kobilka is from Little Falls in central Minnesota. Both his grandfather Felix J. Kobilka (1893-1991) and his father Franklyn A. Kobilka (1921-2004) were bakers and natives of Little Falls, Minnesota. Kobilka's grandmother, Isabelle Susan Kobilka (née Medved, 1891-1980), belonged to the Medved and Kiewel families of Prussian immigrants, who from 1888 owned the historical Kiewel brewery in Little Falls. His mother is Betty L. Kobilka (née Faust, b. 1930).
Kobilka met his wife Tong Sun Thian, a Malaysian Chinese, at the University of Minnesota Duluth. They have two children, Jason and Megan Kobilka