Zinkernagel, Rolf Martin

Zinkernagel, Rolf Martin, 1944–, Swiss immunologist, grad. Univ. of Basel (M.D., 1968), Australian National Univ. (Ph.D., 1975). He has been a professor at the Univ. of Zürich since 1979. Zinkernagel worked with Peter C. Doherty to uncover the mechanisms by which the immune system recognizes cells that have been infected by viruses. The two were awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for their discovery that the body's infection-fighting capability requires simultaneous recognition of the “foreign” viral molecules and a group of “self” molecules known as histocompatibility antigens. Their work laid the foundation for a better understanding of both healthy immune systems and those compromised by autoimmune disorders such as rheumatic diseases and diabetes.

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