Beutler and Hoffmann were honoured for "their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity", while the other half of the prize was given to Steinman for "his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity".
From fundamental research to medical useThe discoveries that are awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize have provided novel insights into the activation and regulation of our immune system. They have made possible the development of new methods for preventing and treating disease, for instance with improved vaccines against infections and in attempts to stimulate the immune system to attack tumors. These discoveries also help us understand why the immune system can attack our own tissues, thus providing clues for novel treatment of inflammatory diseases.
Bruce A. Beutler was born in 1957 in Chicago, USA. He received his MD from the University of Chicago in 1981 and worked as a scientist at Rockefeller University in New York and the University of Texas in Dallas, where he discovered the LPS receptor. Since 2000 he has been professor of genetics and immunology at The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, USA.
Jules A. Hoffmann was born in Echternach, Luxembourg in 1941. He studied at the University of Strasbourg in France, where he obtained his PhD in 1969. After postdoctoral training at the University of Marburg, Germany, he returned to Strasbourg, where he headed a research laboratory from 1974 to 2009. He has also served as director of the Institute for Molecular Cell Biology in Strasbourg and during 2007-2008 as President of the French National Academy of Sciences.
Ralph M. Steinman was born in 1943 in Montreal, Canada, where he studied biology and chemistry at McGill University. After studying medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, USA, he received his MD in 1968. He has been affiliated with Rockefeller University in New York since 1970, has been professor of immunology at this institution since 1988, and is also director of its Center for Immunology and Immune Diseases.
Steinman died this weekend of pancreatic cancer, The Gazette was told by Steinman's family. The Nobel Prize is not normally given posthumously, unless "a prizewinner dies before he has received the prize, then the prize may be presented," the Nobel Prize website states.
The committee that awarded the 2011 Nobel Medicine Prize was not aware that Steinman had died just days before Monday's announcement, the head of the committee said.
Nobel Prize regulations do not allow the award to be given posthumously, but Goeran Hansson said the committee stood by its choice.
The Nobel Institute added: "This year's Nobel Laureates have revolutionized our understanding of the immune system by discovering key principles for its activation."
Find out more : http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/2011/press.html#