News & EFIS
Ruslan Medzhitov: Meet the winner of the Else Kröner-Fresenius Award in 2013
Article first published online: 20 NOV 2013
© 2013 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
European Journal of Immunology
Volume 43, Issue 11, pages 2792–2794, November 2013
How to Cite
(2013), Ruslan Medzhitov: Meet the winner of the Else Kröner-Fresenius Award in 2013. Eur. J. Immunol., 43: 2792–2794. doi: 10.1002/eji.201370115
- Issue published online: 20 NOV 2013
- Article first published online: 20 NOV 2013
The winner of the Else Kröner-Fresenius Immunology Award in 2013 is Ruslan Medzhitov, Professor of Immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, U.S. [1, 2]. EJI had the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions:
Q&A with Ruslan Medzhitov
Prof. Ruslan Medzhitov in the award ceremony.
Image credit: © Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung
What does this award mean to you?
It is a great honor of course, but it is also very humbling to be recognized with any award. But this particular award is special because it includes substantial funding for future research. This makes it much more meaningful compared to recognition for past achievement, which is what most awards are for.
Although awards are given to individuals, there are always many people behind the scenes who had played a crucial role in whatever work is being recognized. This includes mentors, colleagues, current and former trainees, lab technicians, administrative assistants and family members. I am very grateful to all of them.
What inspired you to enter scientific research?
It was a spider web – I was shocked and fascinated to learn that its pattern was determined by a sequence of four nucleotides in the genome. I fell in love with biology and research in general.
What is the current focus of your work?
The current focus is trying to better understand the physiology of host defenses. The immune system is not the only system that reacts to infections. Many physiological processes are affected and some of them actively participate in defense from infection, or in the adaptation to all the changes associated with an ongoing infection. Another focus area is on inflammation biology. I think our understanding of inflammation is very skewed and focused mostly on its extreme, often pathological aspects. For historical and practical reasons, inflammation has been studied mostly in the context of pathology rather than physiology. My interest is in physiological functions of inflammation.
Why did you choose the research areas you have covered?
I try to stay away from over-crowded areas and ‘mainstream’ science. There is little satisfaction in making the kind of advances that anyone could make if they had enough resources, connections and collaborators. I think it is good to do research in the areas where you are limited by your own imagination, not by resources or by access to modern technologies. I like to do research in understudied areas, addressing questions that have been ignored, or even never asked. I don't like fashionable science. The questions I am addressing now are very understudied and there are some pretty fundamental concepts that have not yet been developed there. That's what makes them very attractive to me.
Who has been inspirational/influential with regard to your scientific career?
I have been very fortunate to have many mentors in my scientific life. Some of them I have never met. But of course Charlie Janeway had the biggest direct influence on my scientific career.
What, do you feel, is the most exciting topic in immunology? Excluding your own work of course!
I don't know if ‘exciting’ would be the right word to describe it, but certainly one of the most important topics in immunology is the understanding of protective immunity. We now have a good sense of the rules for the induction of an immune response. However, we still understand very little about requirements and characteristics of protective immune responses. Not every immune response is protective: most vaccine candidates can induce the immune response, but provide no protection. So there is clearly something fundamentally important still missing from our understanding of immunity. Once we understand these rules, we should be able to rationally design vaccines.
What do you think will be the big breakthroughs in or impacting on immunology in the next decade?
There is probably going to be some version of a new Germ Theory of disease – now that our knowledge of the microorganisms that can impact on our health status is expanding, we will need to develop concepts that go beyond the simplistic notion of pathogens and commensals.
Do you have any advice for students starting on their scientific career?
My advice is: never complain and learn statistics.
If you weren't a scientist what would you have become?
A night guard at the Louvre. I am pretty sure of that.
Latest immunology books
Here is a selection of some of the latest immunology-related books. If you wish to review any of these books for EJI, please contact the editorial office (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a free sample copy.
Textbook of Influenza, 2nd Edition
Robert G. Webster, Arnold S. Monto, Thomas J. Braciale, Robert A. Lamb
The Textbook of Influenza is a comprehensive resource covering all aspects of influenza, from the genetic and molecular biology of the virus through to clinical aspects of the disease and the latest drug developments and treatments. This new edition has been completely revised and reflects the integration of disciplines concerning the emergence, evolution, pathogenesis and control of influenza viruses in the field of human and veterinary public health.
The Year in Immunology: Basic and Clinical Research in Human Immunology
Noel R. Rose
This volume of The Year in Immunology features reviews about human immunology, including B1 B cells, BCL-2 family members, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, reverse vaccinology, anti-b2-glycoprotein I, autoimmunity In thromboangiitis obliterans (Buerger's Disease), long pentraxin PTX3 as a paradigm for humoral pattern recognition molecules, and control of inflammatory heart disease by CD4+ T cells.
The Renaissance of Cancer Immunotherapy: The 7th International Cancer Vaccine Symposium
Olivera J. Finn and Gerold Schuler
This Annals volume includes invited short reviews on topics presented at the 7th International Cancer Vaccine Symposium “Renaissance of Cancer Immunotherapy”. It covers the latest progress in basic immunology research and its translation to cancer patients. The meeting and papers pay tribute to the successes in the last few years that have led to the approval of new immunotherapies and the awarding of the Nobel Prize in medicine to three immunologists.
Swiss Society for Allergology and Immunology and World Immune Regulation Meeting
The Swiss Society for Allergology and Immunology (SSAI) Annual Meeting will be held the 20th and 21st of March 2014 in parallel with the 8th World Immune Regulation Meeting (WIRM) (19–22 March 2014) in Davos, Switzerland.
Members of the Executive Committee of EJI are invited speakers at the WIRM. Reinhold Förster will be presenting “Chemokines and chemokine receptors in lymphoid organ organogenesis”, and Andreas Radbruch will talk about “T-cell memory in the bone marrow”.
Find the complete list of the confirmed speakers and all the information related to the WIRM at
IMPORTANT: Early Registration and Abstract submission deadline: 30 November 2013.
EFIS-EJI Meeting Support
EMBO Conference: Lymphocyte signalling
17 – 21 May 2014
The aim of the Lymphocyte signalling – EMBO Conference is to provide a forum to critically assess recent progress in signalling in the immune system.
The main topics that will be covered are:
- TCR signalling: from structure to signal initiation
- Signaling downstream of antigen receptors: from single molecules to high throughput approaches
- Regulation of immune synapse assembly
- Metabolic control of the immune response
- Signalling pathways that regulate effector and memory cell differentiation
- Signalling pathways critical for immune cell development
- Regulation of lymphocyte activation and fate by other immune cells
- Lymphocyte activation and differentiation during the course of infection
- Targeting antigen receptor signalling for immunotherapy
EFIS and EJI will be awarding 11 scholarships to cover the registration fee to young scientists (PhD students and early career post docs).
Deadline for application and abstract submission: 14th February 2014
Find more information about the conference and the EFIS-EJI bursaries at