Immunology in Oxford

Professor Rolf Zinkernagel


Professor Rolf Zinkernagel is a Swiss immunologist and pathologist, and Professor of Experimental Immunology at the University of Zurich. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1996 for the discovery of how the immune system recognises virus-infected cells. Professor Zinkernagel, along with his colleague Peter C. Doherty (a co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize), discovered that T cells recognise infected cells through two molecules on the surface of the cell — the virus antigen, and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) antigen, which recognises cells belonging to the body. This research has greatly influenced mechanistic understanding of cellular immunity.


Rolf Zinkernagel: What do we measure and what do we want to learn

Professor Zinkernagel speaks about some historical and more recent aspects of immunology. Although we do know a lot, only about half of what we think we know is usually true - we just don't know which half!

Professor Zinkernagel differenciates between scientists who beg for the question and scientists who observe. Scientists can not do better than evolution by using the same tools, only when introducing 'new' tools (antibiotics, antivirals, autoantibodies). Scientists also need to keep in mind that, eventually, the patient is always right.