It is with great sadness the School of Medicine shares news that Ferid Murad, MD, PhD, a professor emeritus who held appointments in the Departments of Medicine and Pharmacology from 1970-1981, passed away on September 4, 2023 at the age of 86, in Menlo Park, California.
Dr. Murad was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998 for his groundbreaking discoveries on how nitroglycerin works to treat heart issues like hypertension, making his seminal initial observations while at the University of Virginia. Murad and his collaborators discovered that nitric oxide, released by nitroglycerin, relaxes or widens smooth muscle cells for better blood flow. The discovery helped inform new therapies like improved breathing treatments for premature infants and the development of Viagra for erectile dysfunction.
Dr. Murad was born in Whiting, Indiana on September 14, 1936 to John Murad, an immigrant from Albania, and Henrietta Bowman of Illinois. Fueled by dreams of becoming a doctor since the age of 12, but knowing his parents who owned a small restaurant couldn’t afford it, Dr. Murad competed successfully for a Rector Scholarship to attend DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana for his undergraduate studies from 1954-1958. He went on to earn his MD-PhD degree from Case Western Reserve University, graduating at the top of his class in 1965 and feeling like he was “in his element” pursuing an academic career in medicine that combined clinical work with research and teaching.
Dr. Murad completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1967 and subsequently worked at the National Institutes of Health from 1967-70. In 1970, he was recruited to come to the University of Virginia to develop a new Clinical Pharmacology Division in the Department of Medicine with an appointment as an associate professor in medicine and pharmacology. He launched his research career working with nitric oxide and cyclic GMP at UVA, where he was promoted to professor and continued conducting research until 1981. After several roles in academia and the private sector, Dr. Murad became chair of the Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology at the University of Texas – Houston in 1997, returning to academic medicine, his life’s passion.
In 1998, Dr. Murad won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Robert F. Furchgott, PhD, and Louis J. Ignarro, PhD, “for their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system.”
In addition to winning the Nobel Prize, Dr. Murad was honored with other prestigious awards during his career including the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement, and American Heart Association, Ciba Award. He also conducted research at Stanford University, George Washington University, and Abbott Laboratories and founded the biotech company Molecular Geriatrics.
Dr. Murad will always be remembered for his incredible legacy in medicine and science and his time as a faculty member at UVA School of Medicine. He was an extraordinary physician, scientist, pharmacologist and educator whose contributions to the field of cardiovascular medicine have left indelible impact on patients in Virginia and beyond.