The first of the 2011 Nobel Prizes was awarded this morning in Physiology or Medicine. For their work on activation or innate immunity, Bruce A. Beutler, an American at Scripps Research Institute in California, and Jules A. Hoffmann of Luxembourg, based at the University of Strasbourg in France, shared half the award for their discovery of receptor proteins that recognize microbes and activate the immune system. The other half goes to Ralph M. Steinman, a Canadian affiliated with Rockefeller University in New York, for uncovering the dendritic cell’s role in adaptive immunity.
The Nobel Assembly said in a press release that the three scientists have “revolutionized our understanding of the immune system” and have “made possible the development of new methods for preventing and treating disease” like improved vaccines and stimulating the immune system to fight off tumors.
Update: See more in-depth coverage on the three new Laureates.