Peter Doherty, Nobel Laureate: Questions and Reflections Concerning MHC Restriction and other Fruits of a Life of Biomedical Erudition

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Neil S. Greenspan


In 1974, Peter Doherty and Rolf Zinkernagel published a landmark article in Nature [1] that described the ability of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)-specific cytotoxic T cells to lyse LCMV-infected, 51Cr-labeled target cells if the target cells shared class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecules with these T cells. Surprisingly, infected and labeled target cells with disparate class I MHC molecules were not lysed. This phenomenon, which came to be known as “MHC restriction,” was a major advance in our understanding of the way in which T cells recognize antigen and was ultimately the basis for the awarding of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Peter Doherty and Rolf Zinkernagel. Readers interested in more information on Dr. Doherty or on MHC restriction are referred to the relevant pages of the Nobel Prize website [2].


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Author Biography

Neil S. Greenspan, Professor of Pathology at Case and the Director of the Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratory at University Hospitals Case Medical Center

Dr. Neil Greenspan received his A.B., magna cum laude, in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard College in 1975. He then earned M.D. and Ph.D. (Immunology) degrees at the University of Pennsylvania. From 1981 until 1986, Dr. Greenspan was a Resident in Laboratory Medicine (Clinical Pathology) at Barnes Hospital, and from 1982-1985 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Molecular Immunology at Washington University, both in St. Louis. In 1986, Dr. Greenspan became a faculty member at the Case School of Medicine. He is currently Professor of Pathology at Case and the Director of the Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Laboratory at University Hospitals Case Medical Center.


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