The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1908
"in recognition of their work on immunity"
Paul Ehrlich (1854 - 1915) won the Noble Prize in 1908 for his contributions to understanding immunology. His co-recipient was Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov.
Ehrlich was already a well-known scientist at the time he received that Nobel Prize and he subsequently went on to achieve even greater fame for synthesizing a drug to treat syphilis [Monday's Molecule #119].
Although Ehrlich's specific contributions to immunology aren't mentioned in the presentation speech, they mostly concern the discovery of antibodies. Here's how his contribution is described ...
An endless series of questions now arises: Why are antibodies only built up against some substances and not against all substances which are foreign to the organism? Where are the antibodies formed? By what process are they formed? What is the nature and constitution of these antibodies? How do they react on the microorganisms and their poisons? And various other questions which are important as regards the development and practical utilization of the theory of immunity. It is also a matter of great interest that connecting links have been found between the theory of immunity and the normal physiological processes.
A great deal of intensive and very fruitful work has been devoted to these questions in the last one and a half decades. A large number of research scientists have served the cause of science well by their discoveries and achievements. It is not possible here to report on the extent to which the questions have been answered, neither is it possible to describe the separate accomplishments of individual scientists in this field.
A man who has been responsible for important scientific progress as organizer and leader in this field deserves to be mentioned among the first of those who have dedicated themselves to a study of immunity, is the research scientist Paul Ehrlich, already famous for his other biological work, and the Professorial Staff of the Caroline Institute wishes to honour him too with this year's Nobel Prize for his work in the sphere of immunity.
[Photo Credit: Wellcome Trust Photographic Library]
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