Jon J.van Rood
Wolf Prize Laureate in Medicine 1978
Jon J. van Rood
Affiliation at the time of the award:
University of Leiden, The Netherlands
“for his contribution to the understanding of the complexity of the HL-A system in man and its implications in transplantation and in disease”.
Dr. George Snell discovered and described in mice the H-2 antigens, the structure which codes for major transplantation antigens carrier genes. These genes are essential in the onset of the immune response and therefore mechanism of defense.
The investigation of histocompatibility antigens in humans, led Professor J. Dausset in Paris and Professor Van Rood in Leiden to the discovery and description of a model similar to that in mice, the HL-A system. This is the major histocompatibility complex in man, and its primordial role in organ transplantation has been extensively established and evaluated. Moreover, the association of HL-A antigens to the mechanisms governing the incidence of a number of diseases is under active research.
These investigations are a major breakthrough in the understanding of modern genetics and have opened new avenues for adequate matching of organ and tissue transplantation and for possible control and prevention of certain diseases.
The name of the late Peter Gorer, the British scientist who was among the founders of this field will be linked forever to the pillars of medical genetics.