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The 2011 Prize in
Life Science & Medicine

Jules A Hoffmann,
Ruslan M Medzhitov,
Bruce A Beutler

for their discovery of the molecular mechanism of innate immunity, the first line of defense against pathogens.

 

Learn More About the Laureate

Jules A Hoffmann,<br/>Ruslan M Medzhitov,<br/>Bruce A Beutler

The Contribution

The immune system is central to the survival of humans in a world replete with potentially deadly microbes. This system has two major components: (i) the familiar “adaptive” immune system, which is mobilized by previous infections or vaccines to protect us against subsequent encounters with the microbe for which the vaccine is specific, and (ii) the less well known, but more ancient, innate immune system, which is rapidly mobilized in response to infection and results in inflammatory responses. Both systems are essential for human survival. Infants born without a functioning adaptive immune system, such as those with severe combined immunodeficiency, require heroic measures, such as bone marrow transplantation, if they are to survive. But the lack of a normally functioning innate immune system can also be life-threatening, as is seen in the repetitive severe infections in those with mutations in key components of the innate immune system.

The 2011 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine is awarded to Jules A Hoffmann, Professor at the University of Strasbourg, Ruslan M Medzhitov, David W Wallace Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University, and Bruce A Beutler, Chairman, Department of Genetics, The Scripps Research Institute. These three scientists have done path-breaking work that established the mechanisms of the innate system and have set the stage for a veritable torrent of work by others, leading to enormous progress and to the expectation of many practical applications of this knowledge to improve the overall function of the immune system.  

 

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An Essay on the Prize

The immune system is central to the survival of humans in a world filled with potentially deadly microbes.  Immunity has two major components: (i) the familiar “adaptive” immune system, mobilized by previous infections or vaccines to protect us against subsequent encounters with specific microbes, and (ii) the less well-known, innate immune system, which is immediately mobilized in response to infection through inflammatory responses.  Both systems are essential for human survival.  Infants born without a functioning adaptive immune system, such as those with “severe combined immunodeficiency”, require heroic measures, such as bone marrow transplantation, if they are to survive.  But the lack of a normally functioning innate immune system is also life-threatening, as is seen in the repetitive severe infections in those with mutations in key components of the innate immune system.

The 2011 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine is awarded to Jules Hoffmann, Professor at the University of Strasbourg, Ruslan Medzhitov, David W. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University, and Bruce Beutler, Professor of Immunology, University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.   These three scientists have done path-breaking work that established the mechanisms of the innate system and provide new avenues for drug design to improve the overall function of the immune system.  

 

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About the Laureate

Jules A Hoffmann 

Jules A Hoffmann

Jules A Hoffmann was born in 1941 in Luxembourg. He is a professor at the University of Strasbourg, France. He received his PhD from the University of Strasbourg in 1969. He was Director of the CNRS Research Unit 9022 “Immune Response and Development in Insects” from 1978 to 2005 and Director of the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology of CNRS in Strasbourg from 1993 to 2005. He was President of the French National Academy of Sciences (2007 – 2008). He is a member of several Academies including the French National Academy of Sciences, the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, Academia Europaea, the United States National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Russian Academy of Sciences. 

 

 

7 June 2011  Hong Kong

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Ruslan M Medzhitov

Ruslan M Medzhitov

Ruslan M Medzhitov was born in 1966 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. He is currently the David W Wallace Professor of Immunobiology at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, USA. He received his undergraduate education at Tashkent State University and obtained his PhD from Moscow State University in 1993. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University School of Medicine from 1994 to 1999, where he became assistant professor in 1999 and full professor in 2003. He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences.

7 June 2011  Hong Kong

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Bruce A Beutler

Bruce A Beutler

Bruce A Beutler was born in 1957 in Chicago, USA. He is currently Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research in Honor of Laverne and Raymond Willie, Sr, and Director, Center for Genetics of Host Defense, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA. He received his BA from the University of California, San Diego, in 1976 and his MD from University of Chicago in 1981. Between 1983 and 1986, he was a postdoctoral fellow and then an Assistant Professor at Rockefeller University. In 1990 and 1996, he was appointed associate professor and professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. In 2000, he became a professor at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, USA, and in 2007, was appointed Chairman of the Department of Genetics at the same institution. He is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine.

 

 

7 June 2011  Hong Kong

Autobiography

 

 

 

 

Feature Story

 

The Shaw Prize Lecture in Life Science and Medicine 2011

"The Drosophila Antimicrobial Defense: a Paradigm for Innate Immunity" by Professor Jules A Hoffmann

The Shaw Prize Lecture in Life Science and Medicine 2011

"Host Defense Strategies" by Professor Ruslan M Medzhitov

The Shaw Prize Lecture in Life Science and Medicine 2011

"The Hunt for the LPS Receptor: Mouse Genetics Then and Now" by Professor Bruce A Beutler