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Baruj Benacerraf

Baruj Benacerraf
Born 29 October 1920 (age 89)
Citizenship Venezuela Venezuela
Nationality Venezuela
Fields immunology
Known for Major histocompatibility complex
Notable awards 1980 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

Baruj Benacerraf (born 29 October 1920) is a Venezuelan immunologist, who shared the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the "discovery of the major histocompatibility complex genes which encode cell surface molecules important for the immune system's distinction between self and non-self". His brother is well-known philosopher Paul Benacerraf.

Born in Caracas, his parents were Sephardic Jews: his father was born in the Spanish Morocco (city of Tetuan) and his mother in Algeria. Benacerraf moved to Paris from Venezuela with his family in 1925. After going back to Venezuela, he emigrated to the USA in 1940. He earned his B.S. at Columbia University School of General Studies. He then went on to attain the degree of Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of Virginia, the only school to which he was accepted.

After his medical internship and US Army service (1945–48), and working at the military hospital of Nancy, he became a researcher at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (1948–50). He performed research in Paris (1950–56), relocated to New York University (1956–68), moved to the National Institutes of Health (1968–70), then joined Harvard University (1970–91), concurrently serving the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston (1980). He began studies of allergies in 1948, and discovered the Ir (immune response) genes that govern transplant rejection (1960s).

In 1990, Benacerraf also received National Medal of Science for his contributions to the world of medicine.


  • Raju, T N (November 1999). "The Nobel chronicles. 1980: George Davis Snell (1903-96); Jean Baptiste Dausset (b 1916); Baruj Benacerraf (b 19k20)". Lancet 354 (9191): 1738. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)76734-9. PMID 10568613.  
  • "The Nobel Lectures in Immunology. The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, 1980 awarded to Baruj Benacerraf, Jean Daussett & George D. Snell". Scand. J. Immunol. 35 (4): 373–98. April 1992. PMID 1557610.  
  • Petrányi, G (April 1981). "[Nobel Prize winners in medicine for 1980. Immunogenetic significance of the main histocompatibility system (George Snell, Jean Dausset, Baruj Benacerraf)]". Orvosi hetilap 122 (14): 835–7. PMID 7019812.  

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