Robert F. Furchgott was born on June 4, 1916, in Charleston, South Carolina. Furchgott graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1937 from the University of North Carolina, and became doctor of biochemistry at Northwestern University in 1940. From 1940 to 1949, Furchgott worked in a laboratory at the Medical School at Cornell University. From 1949 to 1956, he moved to Washington University in St. Louis to continue conducting research and experiments at the Pharmacology Department. From 1956 to 1988, he was Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pharmacology at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Medicine at New York Cityat the State University of New York.
In 1978, Furchgott discovered a substance in endothelial cells that relaxes blood vessels, calling it endothelium-derived relaxing factor (EDRF). By 1986, he had worked out EDRF's nature and mechanism of action, and determined that EDRF was in fact nitric oxide (NO), an important compound in many aspects of cardiovascular physiology.
Aside from the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine he received in 1998, Furchgott has also received a Gairdner Foundation International Award for his groundbreaking discoveries (1991) and the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (1996).
As of 2004, Furchgott lives in Brooklyn.
The following press release from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences describes Furchgott's work:
Sources: Wikipedia, Nobelprize.org , Nobel Prize Autobiography