sábado, 27 de agosto de 2011

Homenagem a Baruf Benacerraf - 1921-2011- Immunity

Mutos de nós que gostamos de imunologia, leu e aprendeu um pouco de imunologia lendo no livro do Prof . Benacerraf. Veja abaixo a homenagem da immunity sobre a vida de Benacerraf


Baruj Benacerraf (1921–2011)
Norman L. Letvin1Corresponding Author Contact InformationE-mail The Corresponding Author
1 Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA

Available online 25 August 2011.

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With the recent passing of Baruj Benacerraf at the age of 90, the immunology community has lost one of its pioneering leaders. He was a corecipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1980 for his demonstration of the genetic control of immune responses. Baruj also made important contributions to our understanding of numerous other immunologic phenomena. In addition, he was a supremely gifted scientific administrator and a devoted mentor for generations of immunologists.
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Baruj Benacerraf on the day he was notified that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize in 1980. Photograph by Joe Wrinn, with permission from Harvard Medical School.

Perhaps his most important scientific contribution was his description in the early 1960s of the genetic control of immune responses to administered foreign antigens. Observing that some guinea pigs responded to an antigenic challenge whereas others did not, he showed through inbreeding experiments that this responder versus nonresponder status was genetically determined. He postulated that the responder versus nonresponder status was under the control of what he called immune response or Ir genes—what we now know are genes encoding the major histocompatibilty complex (MHC). The importance of these observations was recognized in 1980 with a Nobel Prize, which he shared with George Snell and Jean Dausset.
Baruj's background was a colorful one. A member of a Sephardic Jewish family involved in the international textile trade (his father was Moroccan and his mother Algerian), he was born in Venezuela and raised in France. He received his undergraduate degree at Columbia University in New York City and medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond. After a brief period of U.S. military service as a physician in Germany and France immediately following World War II, Baruj did a fellowship in immunology at Columbia University with Elvin Kabat and then moved to France, where he began his career in immunology while overseeing his ailing father's business holdings.
In 1956, Baruj returned to the U.S. to accept a faculty position at New York University. He became Chief of Immunology at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in 1968 and then moved to Harvard Medical School in 1970, where he became Chairman of the Department of Pathology. In 1980, he became President of the Harvard Medical School-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
As his career evolved, Baruj's efficiency and administrative prowess became legendary. He launched his career as an independent investigator while overseeing a substantial family business enterprise. At the height of his active professional life, he simultaneously led the Department of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute during an unprecedented period of growth in its clinical and research operations, and his own very active and productive basic immunology laboratory. One of Baruj's life-long friends and professional colleagues, Sheldon Wolff, urged me to spend time working with Baruj after I finished my clinical training in medicine, saying that even if I eventually chose to pursue a career outside of science, I would learn invaluable lessons from Baruj on how to be a successful administrator.
While Baruj's many achievements were impressive, he claimed that his greatest satisfaction came from mentoring young immunologists. He cared deeply about the professional success and personal happiness of his fellows. In spite of his many pressing administrative obligations, he always found time to walk through the laboratory every day and speak individually with each of his fellows about the progress of his or her experiments. He often called me at home in the evening to discuss the outcome of an experiment if the results were not apparent by the end of the usual work day. Perhaps most importantly, his mentoring did not end when a fellow left the laboratory to embark on an independent career. As he did with many others who trained with him, Baruj continued to provide me with invaluable advice on scientific and professional issues as my career progressed. It is not surprising that Baruj's fellows have gone on to make major contributions to our understanding of the immune system and have played major leadership roles in the field of immunology.
Central to his success as a mentor was his genuine feeling that each of his fellows was a member of his family. During his time at Harvard Medical School, he often had members of his laboratory join him, his wife Annette, and his daughter Beryl for dinners at their apartment or weekends at their summer home on Cape Cod. This sense of family carried over to his many fellows who grew to feel an intergenerational bond as members of Baruj's extended family. It is, therefore, only natural that Baruj's passing leaves all of us in the community of immunologists with a deep feeling of personal loss, the loss of a member of our family.

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