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SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Robert F. Furchgott Society

About the Robert F. Furchgott Society

Robert Furchgott shaking the King of Sweden's hand

During the 1950's, Dr. Robert Furchgott developed a method for determining how blood vessels respond to medications, neurotransmitters, and hormones, using a piece of rabbit aorta cut in the form of a helix. Dr. Furchgott's major research advances came in 1980, when he discovered a substance produced by endothelial cells that causes relaxation of vascular smooth muscle. He called this substance endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF). This substance was later identified as nitric oxide. On October 12, 1998, Dr. Furchgott received the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Dr. Furchgott's discoveries have helped scientists understand and discover new treatments for cardiovascular disease and a host of other conditions, ranging from immune disorders to memory loss, pulmonary diseases, and erectile dysfunction.

In 2005, Dr. Alfred Stracher, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, suggested the establishment of the Robert F. Furchgott Society as a tribute to his outstanding achievements and research contributions. Dr. JoAnn Bradley, Senior Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Philanthropy appointed the Society's first Director, Ms. Rose Jackman, Senior Administrator for the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology. In its first two years, the Society provided research recognition awards to graduating PhD students, and later expanded its funding mechanisms to include travel awards to residents and postdoctoral fellows, as well as an award to a graduating medical student for excellence in research.

The current Robert F. Furchgott President, Dr. Hillary Michelson, was appointed in 2018. As President of the Society she expanded the impact of the Society within the Downstate community with the establishment of additional research awards in partnership with the Arthur Ashe Institute of Urban Health. Each year a student from the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health will receive The Young Scholar Award. The Robert F. Furchgott Society is committed to enhancing the visibility and celebrating the outstanding research accomplishments of our Downstate scientists. Together with the Robert F. Furchgott Center for Neural and Behavioral Science, the Furchgott Society is proud to honor the memory and achievements of a truly inspirational scientist and encourage the development of the next generation of researchers. We are grateful to the SUNY Downstate administration, our Society members, and our valued donors, whose vital support allows us to continue achieving our mission.