Michel C. Nussenzweig will give the 2021 Francis Crick Lecture on Monday 15th November at 11:00 AM (GMT). The title of the lecture is ‘Human immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection or vaccination.’ The event will be livestreamed on Zoom and is open to anyone interested in attending.
Michel is currently the Zanvil A. Cohn and Ralph M. Steinman Chair of Immunology at Rockefeller University, where he has been a member of faculty since 1990. His laboratory researches the innate and adaptive responses of our body’s immune systems at a molecular level, using a combination of biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics to do so. His studies on innate immunity are focused on dendritic cells, whilst his work on adaptive immunity looks at B lymphocytes and antibodies to HIV-1 and other viral pathogens including SARS-CoV-2.
His laboratory has methodically isolated, analysed and produced highly potent antibodies capable of neutralising multiple HIV strains. In clinical trials, two of these antibodies drove the level of HIV in blood down notably to be below detectable levels. Significantly, these antibodies continued to provide pathogenic protection months after administration, unlike traditional antiretroviral therapy which relies upon daily dosing. This exemplar approach to developing vaccines and therapies has since been expanded to other viruses such as hepatitis B, flaviviruses and more recently SARS-CoV-2.
Michel received a B.C. summa cum laude from New York University in 1976, a PhD degree with Ralph Steinman from Rockefeller University in 1981 and an M.D. degree from New York University Medical School in 1982. Following this he completed a medical internship, residency and infectious fellowship at the Massachusetts General Hospital before beginning postdoctoral training with Philip Leder in the department of genetics at Harvard Medical School in 1986. His pioneering research has earned him numerous awards including the Robert Koch Award in 2016 and the AAI-BioLegend Herzenberg Award and the Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award, both in 2017. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the US National Academy of Medicine and the US National Academy of Sciences.
The Francis Crick lecture is given in honour of LMB alumnus and Nobel Laureate Francis Crick. It is one of a series of named lectures organised by the LMB and given by eminent scientists from around the world.
Francis was born in 1916 in Northampton. He received a B.Sc. in physics from University College London in 1937. His subsequent PhD was interrupted by World War II, during which he worked on the design of acoustic and magnetic mines for the British Admiralty. In 1948 he joined Max Perutz’s MRC Unit for Research on the Molecular Structure of Biological Systems (now the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology). It was here that he helped solve the structure of DNA and initiated work on the genetic code. In 1976 he moved to the Salk Institute in California where he immersed himself in trying to define how we are aware of things, looking to find a neuronal correlate of consciousness. He continued with this until he died in San Diego on 28 July 2004.