Nobel Laureate to Speak at UNT Health Science Center May 8

April 13, 2006

A Nobel Prize winner in medicine will speak at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth Monday, May 8.

Rolf M. Zinkernagel, MD, PhD, will speak about HIV/AIDS during his noon address, â??Why Donâ??t We Have a Vaccine Against HIV Yet?â? The event will take place in Luibel Hall in the Education and Administration Building, room 108, at noon.

Dr. Zinkernagel shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in medicine with Peter C. Doherty, PhD, for â??their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell mediated immune defense,â? according to the Nobel Foundation. Dr. Zinkernagel was 29 when he discovered how the immune system recognizes viruses in cells. He has spent the bulk of his career researching viruses and the immune system at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

In addition to winning the Nobel Prize, Drs. Zinkernagel and Doherty won the Lasker Award in 1995. Both awards were for research that the duo had done between 1973 and 1975 in Canberra, Australia. During studies of how mice respond to viruses, they found that white blood cells must recognize both the virus and certain â??selfâ? molecules to kill the virus-infected cells. These â??selfâ? molecules are now recognized as key determinants to the success or failure of transplants.

The discovery of how the immune system reacts to viruses led Dr. Zinkernagel to work on other viruses, including HIV, later in his research career.

Dr. Zinkernagel earned a medical degree from the University of Basel in Switzerland and a doctorate from Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.


Contact: Kay Colley 817-735-2553, cell 817-980-5090, e-mail

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