Rolf M. Zinkernagel
Zinkernagel in 2011
Rolf Martin Zinkernagel
January 6, 1944
|Known for||Cytotoxic T cells|
|Institutions||University of Zurich|
|Thesis||The role of the H-2 gene complex in cell-mediated immunity to viral and bacterial infections in mice (1975)|
Rolf Martin Zinkernagel AC, FAA (born January 6, 1944) is Professor of Experimental Immunology at the University of Zurich. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1996 for the discovery of how the immune system recognizes virus-infected cells. 
Career and research
Zinkernagel is a member of the Cancer Research Institute Scientific Advisory Council, The National Academy of Sciences, and The Academy of Cancer Immunology. Zinkernagel was elected as a Corresponding Fellow to the Australian Academy of Science also in 1996.
Awards and honours
Together with the Australian Peter C. Doherty he received the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of how the immune system recognizes virus-infected cells. With this he became the 24th Swiss Nobel laureate. In 1999 he was awarded an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (AC), Australia's highest civilian honour, for his scientific work with Doherty.
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.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, he also won the Cloëtta Prize in 1981, the Cancer Research Institute William B. Coley Award in 1987 and the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award in 1995. Zinkernagel was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMeRS) in 1998.
- Louis-Jeantet Prize
- "Fellows of the Royal Society". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-03-16.
- "Fellowship of the Royal Society 1660-2015". Royal Society. Archived from the original on 2015-10-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- Nobel Prize Autobiography
- Hämmerling, GJ. (Jan 1997). "The 1996 Nobel Prize to Rolf Zinkernagel and Peter Doherty". Cell Tissue Res. 287 (1): 1–2. doi:10.1007/s004410050726. PMID 9011383.
- Zinkernagel, Rolf (1975). The role of the H-2 gene complex in cell-mediated immunity to viral and bacterial infections in mice (PhD thesis). Australian National University.
- It's an Honour: AC
- The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1996 -- Illustrated Presentation
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