Niels K. Jerne
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1984
Born: 23 December 1911, London, United Kingdom
Died: 7 October 1994, Castillon-du-Gard, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: Basel Institute for Immunology, Basel, Switzerland
Prize motivation: "for theories concerning the specificity in development and control of the immune system and the discovery of the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies."
Prize share: 1/3
The immune system includes cells, lymphocytes and antibodies that neutralize substances foreign to the body, or antigens. In 1955 Niels Jerne asserted that all kinds of antibodies already have developed during the fetus stage and that the immune system functions through selection. In 1971 he asserted that lymphocytes teach themselves to recognize the body's own substances in the thymus gland. His 1974 network theory is based on the idea that antibodies not only attach themselves to an antigen, but also can become attached to other antibodies. An immunological reaction arises when an antigen disturbs the system's equilibrium.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.