Did you know that Peter Medawar was born today in 1915? He was a British zoologist and is known as the “father of transplantation”. Immune systems have the ability to recognize substances that belong to its body and identify and ‘attack’ foreign substances such as germs. This immune response becomes a problem during organ transplants, as the immune system will attack the donated organ. In 1960 Peter Medawar shared a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work in discovering that the immune system could be manipulated, which changed the study of immunology and made organ transplants and treatments for auto-immune diseases possible.
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Before Medawar and Burnet’s work, it was thought that the immune system was fully developed at conception. Medawar and Burnet found that the immune system developed later on during the fetus stage. They also discovered there were ways to manipulate and ‘trick’ the immune system.
Peter Medawar shared the 1960 Nobel Prize for Medicine with Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet for their work and discovery of ‘acquired immunological tolerance’. Their work was critical for skin grafts and organ transplants.
Peter Medawar had the reputation for being very witty and clever in his writing and interactions with others.