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Dr. Ralph M. STEINMAN (2004)

Ralph M. Steinman, M.D., Henry G. Kunkel Professor at The Rockefeller University and a senior physician at The Rockefeller University Hospital, is a cell biologist whose research focuses on the immune system in the setting of disease.

The body's immune defense system involves multiple interactions amongst specialized cells and molecules. Dr. Steinman's early research on this intricate system, conducted in collaboration with the late Dr. Zanvil A. Cohn, began as an attempt to understand the development of immune resistance. In the course of their studies, Drs. Steinman and Cohn discovered a previously unknown class of immune cells, which they called dendritic cells because of their tree-like or ramifying shapes.

Dr. Steinman's research, along with many other laboratories world wide, has identified dendritic cells as critical sentinels of the immune system controlling many of their early responses from resistance (immunity) to silencing (tolerance). Steinman and his colleagues have worked out several of the methods that are used to study dendritic cells. A major current interest is to learn to target antigens selectively to these cells in animals and patients, and at the same time, to control dendritic cell differentiation or maturation.

Dr. Steinman heads the Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology at The Rockefeller University. In addition to research in fundamental mechanisms of immunity and tolerance, Steinman studies the interface of the immune system with several disease states, including research aimed at developing vaccines and immune-based therapies for tumors, infections and autoimmune diseases.

Dr. Steinman was born in Montreal on January l4, 1943. He received a B.S. degree with honors from McGill in 1963, and an M.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 1968. After completing an internship and residency at Massachusetts General Hospital, he joined The Rockefeller University in 1970 as a postdoctoral fellow in the Laboratory Cellular Physiology and Immunology headed by Dr. Cohn and the late Dr. James G. Hirsch. He was appointed assistant professor in 1972, associate professor in 1976, and professor in 1988. He was named Henry G. Kunkel Professor in 1995, and Director of the Chris Browne Center for Immunology and Immune Diseases in 1998.

Dr. Steinman is editor of the Journal of Experimental Medicine and advisory editor of Human Immunology, the Journal of Clinical Immunology, the Journal of Immunologic Methods, International Immunology, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, the American Academy of Microbiologists, the American Society of Cell Biology, the American Association of Immunologists, the Harvey, Kunkel and Practitionerfs Societies, and the Society for Leukocyte Biology. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine.

Dr. Steinman is a recipient of the Freidrich-Sasse, Emil von Behring, and Robert Koch Prizes, the Rudolf Virchow and Coley Medals, the Gairdner Foundation International Award, and the Novartis Prize in Basic Immunology.