2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine
Bruce Beutler, Jules Hoffmann and Ralph Steinman share the prize for their eludication of the complex workings of the immune system
The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded today to Bruce Beutler at the Scripps Research Institute in California, Jules Hoffmann at the French National Center for Scientific Research and Ralph Steinman at The Rockefeller University in New York City. Beutler and Hoffman helped to elucidate innate immunity, the non-specific array of initial responses by the body’s immune system that can recognize invading microorganisms as being foreign and try to destroy them.
Steinman investigated dendritic cells and their key role in adaptive immunity, the specialized response to specific invaders that comes into play when innate immunity isn’t enough. Thanks to adaptive immunity infected cells get wiped out, and exposure to a specific pathogen can leave us with long-standing protection against that pathogen.