Jules A. Hoffmann

Robert Koch Award 2004, together with Shizuo Akiran and Bruce A. Beutler

The Robert Koch Foundation has awarded the 2004 Robert Koch Prize, endowed for the first time with €100,000, in equal parts to Professor Jules A. Hoffmann, Professor Bruce A. Beutler and Professor Shizuo Akira. The scientists received the prize for their ground-breaking research into the molecular mechanisms underlying signal recognition, signal transduction and effector functions in innate immunity.

Professor Jules A. Hoffmann (63) is Head of the CNRS Institute for Molecular and Cell Biology in Strasbourg, France. After showing that highly active antibodies to bacteria and fungi are present in the blood of the fruit fly Drosophila, he succeeded in isolating antibiotic substances, and is developing new anti-infectives on the basis of the insects’ antibodies. This research led him to the immunological defense functions of the Toll receptor in insects. He was able to elucidate the signal transmission pathways which are triggered by these binding sites. The Toll receptor in insects is very similar to receptors in humans, which are therefore known as Toll-like receptors, or TLR.