Michael Stuart Brown discovered presence of lipoprotein receptors in human cells

Michael Stuart Brown – discoverer of cholesterol metabolism

Article on Michael Stuart Brown

Biography & Contributions

Michael Stuart Brown is an American geneticist and Nobel Laureate born on April 13, 1941. Stuart Brown had done elucidation of a key link in the metabolism of cholesterol in the human body.

Stuart Brown was the winner of many prestigious awards and medals in his research career like Pfizer Award for Enzyme Chemistry in the year of 1976, Passano Award in the year of 1978, Lounsbery Award in the year of 1979, Gairdner Foundation International Award in the year of 1981, Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize in the year of 1984, William Allan Award, Albert D. Lasker Award and Nobel Prize for physiology and medicine in the year of 1985, National Medal of Science in the year of 1988, Warren Alpert Foundation Prize in the year of 1999, Kober Medal in the year of 2002, Albany Medical Center Prize in the year of 2003, Herbert Tabor Award and Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in the year of 2005, Builders of Science Award in the year of 2007, Stadtman Distinguished Scientist Award in the year of 2011.

Brown and colleague Joseph L. Goldstein researched cholesterol metabolism and discovered that human cells have low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors that extract cholesterol from the bloodstream. The lack of sufficient LDL receptors is implicated in familial hypercholesterolemia. Brown later collaborated with Goldstein in research to develop new drugs (statin) effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels and in researching the basic genetic code behind the LDL receptor. Even their team elucidated the role of lipid modification of proteins in cancer. In the 1990s Brown and Goldstein discovered sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs), transcription factors that control the uptake and synthesis of cholesterol and fatty acids.


Statins are a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting the enzyme HMG-CoA reductase, which plays a central role in the production of cholesterol in the liver, which produces about 70 percent of total cholesterol in the body. Statins have been found to prevent cardiovascular disease and mortality in those who are at high risk. Statins may reduce the risk of esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, gastric cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, and possibly prostate cancer.


Sterols are a subgroup of the steroids and an important class of organic molecules. Sterols and related compounds play essential roles in the physiology of eukaryotic organisms. Sterols are a subgroup of steroids with a hydroxyl group at the 3-position of the A-ring. They are amphipathic lipids synthesized from acetyl-coenzyme A via the HMG-CoA reductase pathway. Sterols of plants are called phytosterols and sterols of animals are called zoosterols.

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