Dr. Ferid Murad, Nobel Prize Laureate, physician and researcher has died at the age of 87. His death was announced by his friends on social media on September 4. He is the co-winner of the 1998 Nobel in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery that nitric oxide (NO) acts as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system. The research work of Murad and two scientists uncovered an entirely new mechanism for how blood vessels work in the body. He was optimistic about future and potential uses of NO in scientific discoveries for Alzheimer’s and other diseases.
He called himself “a researcher of Albanian descent”. Dr. Murad credited his upbringing and the opportunities afforded to him in this country for instilling in him the virtue of being fair and right.
Dr. Murad was born in Whiting Indiana on September 14, 1936. Being of Albanian descent from his father’s side, he was grateful for chosing the right path in life. His father, a Muslim Albanian, migrated to the United States, and fell in love with a Presbyterian American, Dr. Murad said. “My parents expected me to become a practitioner physician and had high hopes for me because even, back that time, few people went to college after high school graduation. I may have disappointed them by choosing the path of scientific research. It was not the easier road, nor the most profitable. But somehow I felt that that was the right path for me.”
Recognizing that he wanted to make a change, the 1998 Laureate spoke of hoping “that with some luck, my research could influence the lives of people.”
On his 80th birthday, the National Library of Medicine curated a special issue in his honor. He is the recipient of numerous awards and a member of prestigious academies across the globe.
The issue states that the importance of a gas like nitric oxide functioning as a hormone and act as a mediator goes beyond physiology and pathophysiology in the cardiovascular, and virtually all other biological, systems. The number of studies that was generated in the 30 years after the discovery is evidence of the groundbreaking research work, although the most known application is the area of impotence. “As he turns 80 this year, Dr. Murad can look back on a rich career filled with extraordinarily impactful molecular discovery and translation of those insights into novel therapeutic paradigms for individual patients and populations. His gift was to see something that everyone else had seen, the activity of nitrovasodilators, and then to doggedly pursue the underlying biology to define previously unknown molecular mechanisms which proved to be paradigm shifting and field-opening,” states the National Library of Medicine.
Being fair dhe right was a driving principle that Dr. Murad embraced. He recognized both the competitiveness and collaboration of research with colleagues, the complexities of involving a lot of people, funding, and close cooperation within the country and often, strong collaboration outside the country.
Importantly, Dr. Murad was an advocate of Albanian issues. Through various interviews with international press and Albanian media, he made the case for Kosova’s UNESCO membership. Just like in research, setting the right frame for him provides a good start of “freedom, access, and opportunities.” “I am a researcher of Albanian background. I’ve been to Kosovo and seen the amazing progress and the potential of youth and students there. I see the same eagerness to succeed as I had in my young years. I was lucky enough to be born in the land of opportunities. It hurts me when I see frustration in their eyes; they live in the most isolated country in the Balkans and Europe due to a visa restriction regime. They can’t travel freely for studies, leisure or work. Their access to different programs and grants is limited. I send them my full support. They have chosen the right direction, that of integration and cooperation. Accessing diverse scientific programs helps. Scientific research is a safe bet: even simple ideas could have far-reaching consequences.”
Dr. Murad’s legacy in scientific discovery and integrity driven by virtue will be missed. “It is noble to change the life of someone, to recognize his or her effort. But first of all, we have the obligation to be fair. By offering full membership to Kosovo, member countries will do what is right and what is fair.”