A memoir by Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Robert Lefkowitz includes referencing his time living in Monroe in his forthcoming book, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Stockholm: The Adrenaline-Fueled Adventures of an Accidental Scientist,” to be published by Pegasus Books next month.
Lefkowitz spent his summers in Monroe, met his first wife Arna there and traveled back to Monroe frequently as an adult to visit family.
This memoir from the cardiologist turned scientist and winner of the Nobel Prize focuses his joy of science and discovery, giving a glimpse into the life of one of today’s scientists.
In one of the book’s chapters, Lefkowitz writes about a time in 1976 when he saved the life of a motorist on Route 17.
“Weeks later, after we had returned to North Carolina, Arna’s mother sent us a clipping from the Monroe Gazette, her local newspaper,” he wrote. “The headline read, ‘Mystery physician saves man’s life on Route 17.’ The article detailed how a prominent local citizen had been in a horrific car accident, and then a doctor had appeared out of nowhere and tended to him.
“This mysterious physician had accompanied the injured man in the ambulance and kept him alive on the long drive to the hospital.
“Then, like the Lone Ranger, the unknown physician had simply ridden off into the sunset.
“Arna’s mother recognized the details of the story and asked, ‘Was this you?’ I confessed that yes, I was indeed the mystery physician, although I asked her not to tell anyone about it. I like to believe that to this day I remain a mythic figure in the greater Monroe area, a ghostly healer who materializes at night to help injured motorists.”
Lefkowitz is best known for his ground-breaking discoveries that reveal the inner workings of an important family G protein-coupled receptors, and he was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Brian Kobilka.
He is currently an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as well as a James B. Duke Professor of Medicine and is a biochemistry and chemistry professor at Duke University.
The book is available on Amazon.