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IU School of Medicine-NW researcher gets seat at Nobel lectures

A colleague of one of this year’s Nobel Prize winners, Dziarski is invited to Stockholm for prestigious lectures

IU Northwest file photo
Roman Dziarski, Ph.D.

When it comes to accolades in research, it doesn’t get any better than the Nobel Prize.

In early December, when the Nobel Prize winners in Physiology or Medicine for 2011 convened in Stockholm, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology Roman Dziarski, Ph.D., of the Indiana University School of Medicine – Northwest, was privileged to be seated among those dignitaries invited by the winners.

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2011 was divided, one half jointly to Bruce A. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann "for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity" and the other half to Ralph M. Steinman "for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity."

Jules Hoffman just happens to be a close colleague of Dziarski’s; the two study in the same field of innate immunity. The “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” of a personal invitation extended by Hoffman is evidence of the high caliber of scientific research that Dziarski contributes to his field.

“We do similar research; we often speak at the same symposiums,” Dziarski said. In fact, Hoffman, whose work involves insects, has often cited the published research of Dziarski and his team, who conduct similar research with humans and mice.

In 2006, Dziarski and his colleagues discovered a previously unknown class of antibacterial proteins secreted by human tissues. Four proteins, called peptidoglycan recognition proteins (PGRP) or PGLYRP 1-4, have been found in skin, eyes, salivary glands, throat, tongue, esophagus, stomach, and intestines of humans.

“These proteins,” Dziarski explained, “open up a whole new area of research on so-called ‘innate immunity’, the ability of cells and tissues to fight off infection without the help of immune cells.”

Dziarski said Hoffman and his colleague were the first investigators to open up study in the field of innate immunity. They have been working on PGRPs in insects for the past 10 years.

Dziarski said he feels privileged to travel in such highly regarded academic circles.

“I am part of this innate immunity field that has become prominent to the point that it was awarded the Nobel Prize,” Dziarski said. “I feel like I am part of the field that contributed to the recognition by another committee of the whole field.”


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Related Links

The Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize

"Medical School scientist discovers new class of human proteins that fight bacterial infection"