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National Jewish Scientists Win Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Award


National Jewish Medical and Research Center immunologists Philippa Marrack, PhD, and John Kappler , PhD, have been awarded the 2005 Bonfils-Stanton Foundation Award in Science and Medicine. The award is given annually to distinguished Coloradoans who have achieved significant advances in scientific and/or medical research. Winners receive a $25,000 award.


Working as a team, Drs. Kappler and Marrack have made numerous extremely important scientific discoveries that have impacted the health of millions of people throughout the world. Their research has helped unravel the functioning of our immune system.

In the early 1980s, Drs. Kappler and Marrack isolated the T-cell receptor, the crucial element that recognizes foreign substances in the body. In 1987, they discovered how T cells that target the body’s own tissues are identified and destroyed in the thymus. If not removed from the body, these cells can cause destructive autoimmune diseases, such as diabetes and lupus. In 1990, they discovered superantigens, extremely virulent toxins that cause an overwhelming and disastrous immune response, such as occurs in toxic shock syndrome. These and other discoveries made them two of the most influential immunologists in the world.

Both Drs. Kappler and Marrack are members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and are investigators with the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Together, they have won the British Royal Society’s Wellcome Foundation Prize and The Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstadter Prize from the Paul Ehrlich Foundation in Germany. Most notably, Drs. Kappler and Marrack have received the prestigious Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University, often considered a predictor of the Nobel Prize since about half its recipients have subsequently won a Nobel Prize.

In addition to their scientific accomplishments, throughout their careers, they have contributed to the education of new generations of research scientists and physicians through fellowships in their laboratories and teaching immunology courses to graduate and medical students.

The awards were presented at an awards dinner ceremony on Tuesday, March 29.

National Jewish Health is the leading respiratory hospital in the nation. Founded 125 years ago as a nonprofit hospital, National Jewish Health today is the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to groundbreaking medical research and treatment of children and adults with respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders. Patients and families come to National Jewish Health from around the world to receive cutting-edge, comprehensive, coordinated care. To learn more, visit the media resources page.

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