Ruslan Medzhitov, PhD
In 1997, immunologist Ruslan Medzhitov, PhD, and colleagues discovered and characterized the molecular pattern recognition receptor Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR-4). Toll-like receptors play a critical role in innate immunity by detecting pathogens and marking them for elimination. They recognize and bind to pathogen- or damage-associated molecular patterns, triggering a rapid, non-specific immune response. Medzhitov and his team discovered that TLR-4 also induces inflammation and adaptive immune responses by activating various cell-signaling pathways. Currently, he studies the role of Toll-like receptors in host-pathogen and host-commensal interactions and control of adaptive immunity in autoimmune diseases and allergy. His lab also studies mechanisms of Toll-like receptor–induced gene expression and host responsiveness to multiple infections.
In 2010, Medzhitov was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and received the prestigious Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science for elucidating the mechanisms of innate immunity. His numerous other awards include the Searle Scholarship, the William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology from the Cancer Research Institute, the Emil von Behring Award, an American Association of Immunologists–BD Biosciences Investigator Award, the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists, and the Howard Taylor Ricketts Award.
Medzhitov holds a BA from Tashkent State University in his native Uzbekistan and a PhD from Moscow State University in Russia. He joined Yale University as a postdoctoral associate in 1994 and remains there today as the David W. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.