July 24, 2014

Baruj Benacerraff

It is with great sadness that the MBL shares the passing of Nobelist and former MBL Corporation Member and trustee Baruj Benacerraf, who died August 1. The MBL flag is being lowered for the next three days in his honor.

The following obituary appeared in the New York Times:

Baruj Benacerraf, Nobel Winner in Medicine, Dies at 90
by Denise Gellene

Dr. Baruj Benacerraf, a Venezuelan-born immunologist who received a Nobel Prize for his groundbreaking work in exploring why diseases like multiple sclerosis affect some people but not others, died on Tuesday at his home in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. He was 90.

The cause was pneumonia, according to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Dr. Benacerraf, the son of a textile merchant who had hoped he would carry on the family business, was president of the institute from 1980 to 1991.

He shared the 1980 Nobel Prize in medicine with Dr. George Snell of the United States and Dr. Jean Dausset of France for their decades of work studying the immune system. Their discoveries explained why some people were better able to defend themselves against infection than others and why certain people were at greater risk than others of contracting multiple sclerosis, lupus and other autoimmune diseases, in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues.