Brian Kobilka
Brian Kent Kobilka

(1955-05-30) May 30, 1955 (age 68)
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota Duluth (BS)
Yale University (MD)
AwardsNobel Prize in Chemistry (2012)
Scientific career
InstitutionsStanford University, Duke University
Academic advisorsRobert Lefkowitz

Brian Kent Kobilka (born May 30, 1955)[1] is an American physiologist and a recipient of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert Lefkowitz for discoveries that reveal the workings of G protein-coupled receptors. He is currently a professor in the department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He is also a co-founder of ConfometRx, a biotechnology company focusing on G protein-coupled receptors. He was named a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2011.

Early life

Kobilka attended St. Mary's Grade School in Little Falls, Minnesota, a part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud.[2] He then graduated from Little Falls High School. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Minnesota Duluth, and earned his M.D., cum laude, from Yale University School of Medicine. Following the completion of his residency in internal medicine at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine's Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Kobilka worked in research as a postdoctoral fellow under Robert Lefkowitz at Duke University, where he started work on cloning the β2-adrenergic receptor. Kobilka moved to Stanford in 1989.[3] He was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) investigator from 1987 to 2003.[4]


Kobilka in Stockholm 2012

Kobilka is best known for his research on the structure and activity of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs); in particular, work from Kobilka's laboratory determined the molecular structure of the β2-adrenergic receptor.[5][6][7][8] This work has been highly cited by other scientists because GPCRs are important targets for pharmaceutical therapeutics, but notoriously difficult to work with in X-ray crystallography.[9] Before, rhodopsin was the only G-protein coupled receptor where the structure had been determined at high resolution. The β2-adrenergic receptor structure was soon followed by the determination of the molecular structure of several other G-protein coupled receptors.[10]

Kobilka is the 1994 recipient of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics John J. Abel Award in Pharmacology.[11] His GPCR structure work was named "runner-up" for the 2007 "Breakthrough of the Year" award from Science.[12] The work was, in part, supported by Kobilka's 2004 Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award[13] from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.[14] He received the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert Lefkowitz for his work on G protein-coupled receptors.[15][16] In 2017, Kobilka received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[17]

As part of Shenzhen’s 13th Five-Year Plan funding research in emerging technologies and opening "Nobel laureate research labs",[18] in 2017 he opened the Kobilka Institute of Innovative Drug Discovery at the CUHK Shenzhen campus in Southern China.[19]

Personal life

Kobilka is from Little Falls in central Minnesota. Both his grandfather Felix J. Kobilka (1893–1991) and his father Franklyn A. Kobilka (1921–2004) were bakers and natives of Little Falls, Minnesota.[20][21][22] Kobilka's grandmother, Isabelle Susan Kobilka (née Medved, 1891–1980), belonged to the Medved and Kiewel families of Prussian immigrants, who from 1888 owned the historical Kiewel brewery in Little Falls. His mother is Betty L. Kobilka (née Faust, b. 1930).

Kobilka met his wife Tong Sun Thian, a Malaysian-Chinese woman,[23] at the University of Minnesota Duluth. They have two children, Jason and Megan Kobilka.[20][24]


  1. ^ "BRIAN K. KOBILKA, MD". Tsinghua University School of Medicine. Archived from the original on 2012-12-16. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
  2. ^ "Catholic scientist at Stanford shares Nobel Prize for work in chemistry". Catholic News Service. 2012-10-23. Archived from the original on 2013-02-15. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
  3. ^ Nature Reviews Drug Discovery GPCR Questionnaire Participants (2004). "The state of GPCR research in 2004 : Nature Reviews Drug Discovery". Nature Reviews Drug Discovery. 3 (7). Nature: 577–626. doi:10.1038/nrd1458. PMID 15272499. S2CID 33620092. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
  4. ^ "Brian K. Kobilka, M.D." HHMI. Archived from the original on 2014-05-02. Retrieved 2013-01-19.
  5. ^ "Cell Insights Could Bring Better Drugs". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
  6. ^ Rasmussen SG, Choi HJ, Rosenbaum DM, Kobilka TS, Thian FS, Edwards PC, Burghammer M, Ratnala VR, Sanishvili R, Fischetti RF, Schertler GF, Weis WI, Kobilka BK (2007). "Crystal structure of the human β2-adrenergic G-protein-coupled receptor". Nature. 450 (7168): 383–7. Bibcode:2007Natur.450..383R. doi:10.1038/nature06325. PMID 17952055. S2CID 4407117.
  7. ^ Cherezov V, Rosenbaum DM, Hanson MA, Rasmussen SG, Thian FS, Kobilka TS, Choi HJ, Kuhn P, Weis WI, Kobilka BK, Stevens RC (2007). "High Resolution Crystal Structure of an Engineered Human β2-Adrenergic G protein-Coupled Receptor". Science. 318 (5854): 1258–65. Bibcode:2007Sci...318.1258C. doi:10.1126/science.1150577. PMC 2583103. PMID 17962520.
  8. ^ Rosenbaum DM, Cherezov V, Hanson MA, Rasmussen SG, Thian FS, Kobilka TS, Choi HJ, Yao XJ, Weis WI, Stevens RC, Kobilka BK (2007). "GPCR engineering yields high-resolution structural insights into β2-adrenergic receptor function". Science. 318 (5854): 1266–73. Bibcode:2007Sci...318.1266R. doi:10.1126/science.1150609. PMID 17962519. S2CID 1559802.
  9. ^"Interview with Brian Kobilka". Archived from the original on 2010-05-08. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  10. ^ Hanson, M. A.; Stevens, R. C. (2009). "Discovery of New GPCR Biology: One Receptor Structure at a Time". Structure. 17 (1): 8–14. doi:10.1016/j.str.2008.12.003. PMC 2813843. PMID 19141277.
  11. ^ "John J. Abel Award". ASPET. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  12. ^ "Kobilka's work recognized in magazine award". Stanford University. 2008-01-09. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  13. ^ "Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award Recognizes Eight Exemplary Scientists". National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 2004-11-10. Archived from the original on 2008-10-07. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  14. ^ "The Structure of an Important Drug Target Made Crystal Clear". National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). 2007-12-05. Archived from the original on 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
  15. ^ Hotz, Robert Lee (October 10, 2012). "U.S. Scientists Win Chemistry Nobel". The Wall Street Journal Online. Retrieved October 10, 2012.
  16. ^ "Americans Robert Lefkowitz and Brian Kobilka win 2012 Nobel Prize in chemistry". Daily News. AP. 10 October 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  17. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  18. ^ "Shenzhen Has 7 Nobel Prize Winners' Labs, 3 More Planned". That's Online. Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  19. ^ "KOBILKA INSTITUTE OF INNOVATIVE DRUG DISCOVERY | CUHK-Shenzhen". Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  20. ^ a b "Franklyn A. Kobilka, 83". ECM Publishers, Inc. 2004-03-16. Archived from the original on 2012-12-09. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
  21. ^ Paul Walsh; Alejandra Matos (2012-10-11). "Little Falls bakery helps deliver a sweet reward: Nobel Prize". StarTribune. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
  22. ^ "Social Security Death Index". Archived from the original on 2012-12-06. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
  23. ^ 大馬華人女婿獲諾獎‧化學獎得主科比爾卡會煮豉油雞 (in Chinese). 星洲日報. 2012-10-11. Archived from the original on 2012-12-19. Retrieved 2013-01-16.
  24. ^ Buchen, Lizzie (24 August 2011). "Cell signalling: It's all about the structure". Nature. 476 (7361): 387–390. Bibcode:2011Natur.476..387B. doi:10.1038/476387a. PMID 21866135.