Yale Immunobiologist Wins Prestigious Rosenstiel Award For Pioneering Studies of Innate Immune System

Yale School of Medicine immunobiologist Ruslan Medzhitov, Ph.D., David W. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, has been awarded the 2010 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science.

The Rosenstiel Award, founded in 1972 at Brandeis University, has a long record of identifying and honoring pioneering scientists who have subsequently been honored with the Lasker Award and Nobel Prize. The award to Medzhitov is for his “elucidation of the mechanisms of innate immunity,” according to the Rosenstiel Center. Medzhitov’s studies helped shed light on the critical role of toll-like receptors (TLRs) in sensing microbial infections, mechanisms of TLR signaling and activation of the inflammatory and immune response.

Medzhitov said, "Recent discoveries of TLRs and other pattern recognition receptors uncovered the key pathways that control immune responses. Targeting these receptors should help to manipulate the immune system with vaccines and other interventions.”

Medals are presented annually by the Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center at Brandeis on the basis of recommendations of a panel of outstanding scientists. Awards are given to scientists for recent discoveries of particular originality and importance to basic medical research. A $30,000 prize and a medal accompanies each award. Sharing the award for his work in innate immunity is Jules Hoffman, Research Director and Member of the Board of Administrators of the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), University Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.

Past Yale winners of the Rosenstiel Award include:

  • 2008: Arthur L. Horwich, Eugene Higgins Professor of Genetics and Pediatrics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, for his work in the field of protein-mediated protein folding.
  • 2002: Joan Steitz, Sterling Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, for her work in establishing a sub-field of molecular biology concerning small nuclear ribonucleoproteins.
  • 2001: Thomas Steitz, Eugene Higgins Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Chemistry and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, who was presented with the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, and Peter B. Moore, Eugene Higgins Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and Chemistry, for their discovery that peptide bond formation on the ribosome is catalyzed exclusively by ribosomal RNA.
  • 1996: Thomas D. Pollard, former Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and current Sterling Professor and Chairman, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology and of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry at Yale, for his contributions to the understanding of molecular motors.
  • 1989: Sidney Altman, Professor of Biology, for discovering the catalytic properties of RNA. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry the same year.