News Release

Monday, October 3, 2011

NIH grantees win 2011 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to National Institutes of Health grantees Bruce A. Beutler, M.D., of The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, Calif.; and Jules A. Hoffmann, Ph.D., for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity and the late Ralph M. Steinman, M.D., of Rockefeller University, New York City for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity.

"The work of these three NIH-supported scientists has provided fundamental understanding of the body’s immune system, and has been pivotal to the development of new vaccines against infectious diseases and treatments for cancer," said NIH director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

The NIH began supporting the work of Dr. Beutler in 1984 and has provided almost $58 million in support. Dr. Beutler’s work has been supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, and the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Hoffmann has received almost $7 million in support from NIAID since 1998. NIAID began supporting the work of Dr. Steinman in 1976 and provided more than $49 million in support.

"NIAID has had the honor of supporting all three awardees," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "Their elegant work has been — and will continue to be — extraordinary in its impact. It is rare that an investigator makes a discovery so important that it influences virtually every aspect of a scientific discipline. Their discoveries have opened up the possibility of harnessing the body’s own cells and immune processes to prevent infectious diseases, autoimmune disorders, allergic diseases, cancer, and rejection of organ transplants."

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