Charles Robert Richet
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1913
Born: 26 August 1850, Paris, France
Died: 4 December 1935, Paris, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: Sorbonne University, Paris, France
Prize motivation: "in recognition of his work on anaphylaxis."
Prize share: 1/1
Our immune system protects us from attacks by microorganisms and poisonous substances. After experiencing an attack, the immune system learns to defend itself against new attacks - we become immune. One of the ways this is used is with vaccinations, when a low dosage of an infectious substance provides immunity. Through studies involving dogs, Charles Richet demonstrated an opposite effect in 1902. After an initial low dose of a substance, a new dose some weeks later could produce a severe reaction. He called the phenomenon anaphylaxis. The result had important implications for our understanding of allergies.