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Spring 2000

Nobel Men
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Viagra is only the first and most immediate therapeutic application, but it is hardly a trivial one, since impotency affects some 9 percent of the world's human males. Ignarro is proud of the pile of letters he has accumulated from grateful spouses.

But, important as that may be, Ignarro believes his work eventually will help prevent the vascular complications of diabetes, and his ultimate goal is advancing his work to the point of "actually cutting back on deaths due to cardiovascular disease." He hopes the prestige, and the accompanying financial clout, from the Nobel Prize will help him to accelerate progress in that direction.

Already, he has found that "the dean and chancellor and others here at UCLA certainly have developed a little bit more respect for me, which is a good thing." Friends look at him differently, too and, in the competitive sports Ignarro still enjoys, "they let me win."

His wife, Sharon Ignarro M.D. '96, is also a resident at UCLA, where she teaches family medicine. When they married, two-and-a-half years ago, "she thought she was marrying a nice, quiet professor. She's a bit shy, and I think the first thing she thought after the Nobel Prize was announced was, 'Oh, my lord, now I have to go meet all these new people.' But she's really enjoyed this, and the Nobel Prize has opened up some avenues for her. She gets treated with respect here as a physician and she's had opportunities to practice family medicine in different ways."

What hasn't changed is Ignarro's commitment to teaching. He is the winner of 11 consecutive Golden Apples, the award UCLA medical students give to the year's best teacher. "Most people either focus on research or focus on teaching," Ignarro says. "I work very hard to focus on both."

During the academic year, he arrives at work at 4 o'clock in the morning, works on his lecture 'til 8, delivers the lecture and then spends another four hours preparing for the next one. "I am very busy, but I do not do it at the expense of my research."

And, says the Nobel laureate, the Golden Apple is "a great reward."

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