Nobel Laureate Visiting Professors
In the next Academic Year, two Nobel laureates will teach at Humanitas University as visiting Professors: Jules A. Hoffmann and Rolf Martin Zinkernagel.
Jules A. Hoffmann and Bruce Beutler were jointly awarded a half share of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for “their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity”. Hoffmann and Lemaitre discovered the function of the fruit fly Toll gene in innate immunity. Its mammalian homologs, the Toll-like receptors, were discovered by Beutler. Toll-like receptors identify constituents of other organisms like fungi and bacteria, and trigger an immune response, explaining, for example, how septic shock can be triggered by bacterial remains.
He currently holds a faculty position at the University of Strasbourg.
Rolf Martin Zinkernagel and Peter C. Dohertywere jointly awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for “for their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell mediated immune defence”. Viruses infect host cells and reproduce inside them. Killer T-cells destroy those infected cells so that the viruses can’t reproduce. Zinkernagel and Doherty discovered that, in order for killer T cells to recognize infected cells, they had to recognize two molecules on the surface of the cell—not only the virus antigen, but also a molecule of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). This recognition was done by a T-cell receptor on the surface of the T cell. The MHC was previously identified as being responsible for the rejection of incompatible tissues during transplantation. Zinkernagel and Doherty discovered that the MHC was responsible for the body fighting meningitis viruses too.
He currently is Professor of Experimental Immunology at the University of Zurich. He presides the Humanitas Research International Advisory Board.
[sources: Wikipedia, nobelprize.org]