Professor Peter Doherty – Nobel Laureate
Doherty‘s research focuses on the immune system. His Nobel work described how the body’s immune cells protect against viruses. He and Rolf Zinkernagel, the co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, discovered how T cells recognize their target antigens in combination with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins.
Peter Charles Doherty AC (born 15 October 1940) is an Australian veterinary surgeon and researcher in the field of medicine. He received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1995, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Rolf M. Zinkernagel in 1996 and was named Australian of the Year in 1997. In the Australia Day Honours of 1997, he was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for his work with Zinkernagel. Zinkernagel was named an honorary Companion. He is also a National Trust Australian Living Treasure. He had a younger brother named Ian and had two parents named Linda and Eric. He skipped a grade in school and entered the University of Queensland when he was 17.
Viruses infect host cells and reproduce inside them. Killer T-cells destroy those infected cells so that the viruses cannot reproduce. Zinkernagel and Doherty discovered that, in order for killer T cells to recognize infected cells, they had to recognize two molecules on the surface of the cell – not only the virus antigen, but also a molecule of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). This recognition was done by a T-cell receptor on the surface of the T cell. The MHC was previously identified as being responsible for the rejection of incompatible tissues during transplantation. Zinkernagel and Doherty discovered that the MHC was responsible for the body fighting meningitis viruses too.
Peter Doherty – Scepticism, Denial and Ignorance: There is a Difference – Vic Skeptics 2013
Pandemics: What Everyone Needs to Know
Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty offers a level-headed guide to all aspects of pandemics-what they are, how they spread, and what we can do to prevent them.
Pandemics. The word conjures up images of horrific diseases sweeping the globe and killing everyone in their path. But such highly lethal illnesses almost never create pandemics. The reality is deadly serious but far more subtle.
In Pandemics, Peter Doherty, who won the Nobel Prize for his work on how the immune system recognizes virus-infected cells, offers an essential guide to one of the truly life-or-death issues of our age. In concise, question-and-answer format, he explains the causes of pandemics, how they can be counteracted with vaccines and drugs, and how we can better prepare for them in the future. Doherty notes that the term “pandemic” refers not to a disease’s severity but to its ability to spread rapidly over a wide geographical area. Extremely lethal pathogens are usually quickly identified and confined. Nevertheless, the rise of high-speed transportation networks and the globalization of trade and travel have radically accelerated the spread of diseases. A traveler from Africa arrived in New York in 1999 carrying the West Nile virus; one mosquito bite later, it was loose in the ecosystem. Doherty explains how the main threat of a pandemic comes from respiratory viruses, such as influenza and SARS, which disseminate with incredible speed through air travel. The climate disruptions of global warming, rising population density, and growing antibiotic resistance all complicate efforts to control pandemics. But Doherty stresses that pandemics can be fought effectively. Often simple health practices, especially in hospitals, can help enormously. And research into the animal reservoirs of pathogens, from SARS in bats to HIV in chimpanzees, show promise for our prevention efforts.
Calm, clear, and authoritative, Peter Doherty’s Pandemics is one of the most critically important additions to the What Everyone Needs to Know series.
- Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative
- Peter Doherty’s Nobel Lecture
- Webpage at St. Jude
- Nobel Biography
- Immune discovery changes modern medicine, itsanhonour.gov.au
- Radio Interview from This Week in Science 5 September 2005 broadcast
- “Winning a Nobel: easy as wrestling a pig”, by Margaret Wertheim, Cosmos magazine, October 2006
- Peter Doherty delivers the opening address at the 2009 Melbourne Festival of Ideas on ABC Fora (video)