Robert Lefkowitz was born on April 15, 1943, in The Bronx, New York.
After graduating from the Bronx High School of Science in 1959, he attended Columbia College from which he received a bachelor of arts in chemistry 1962.
He graduated from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1966 with an M.D. Degree. After serving an internship and one year of general medical residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, he served as Clinical and Research Associate at the National Institutes of Health from 1968 to 1970.
Upon completing his medical residency and research and clinical training in 1973, he was appointed Associate Professor of Medicine and Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at the Duke University Medical Center. In 1977 he was promoted to Professor of Medicine and in 1982 to James B. Duke Professor of Medicine at Duke University. He is also Professor of Biochemistry and Chemistry. He has been an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 1976 and was an Established Investigator of the American Heart Association from 1973-1976.
He has served as President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and of the Association of America Physicians, and on the Council of the USA National Academy of Sciences.
In 1988, he was inducted into both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1994, he was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lefkowitz has received many awards for his work on cellular receptors, including the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1988), the Association of America Medical Colleges’ Biomedical Research Award (1990), the American Heart Association’s Basic Research Prize (1990) and its Research Achievement Award (2009), the Bristol-Myers Squibb Award for Distinguished Achievement in Cardiovascular Research (1992), the National Academy of Sciences’ Jessie Stevenson Kovalenko Medal (2001), Fred Conrad Koch Award of The Endocrine Society (2001), and five honorary doctorates. In 2007 he received the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research and The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine. He received the 2007 National Medal of Science, presented by President George W. Bush on Sept. 29, 2008, in a White House ceremony and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2012.