The Miracle Man
“Once you’ve generated T cells that can recognise cancer, you’ve got them basically for the rest of your life.”
Recognized as the first to have isolated the T-cell antigen receptor complex protein, Dr. James Patrick Allison is today world-famous for his groundbreaking work in the field of cancer immunotherapy. Born in Texas, USA, in August 1948, he was motivated to make a difference in the field of cancer treatment because of the death of loved ones due to the disease. After completing high school biology by a correspondence course at Alice High School, he spent a summer at an NSF– funded summer science-training program at the University of Texas, Austin. There he was inspired by his 8th-grade math teacher to pursue a career in science.
Dr. Allison obtained a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, Austin in 1969. After four years, he completed his doctoral research under the guidance of Dr. G Barrie Kitto in biological sciences from the same university. From 1974 to 1977, Allison worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, California. In 1985, he was appointed a professor of immunology and director of Cancer Research Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. He moved to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City to become the director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy and the chair of the immunology programme in 2004.
Until 2012, Dr. Allison served as a professor and a co-chair of the Department of Graduate Programme in Immunology and Microbial Pathogenesis at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences; followed by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) as an investigator. Since 2012 he has been the chair of immunology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He has also been serving as the director of CRI’s Scientific Advisory Council since 2011. Dr. Allison has won many noteworthy awards globally for his commendable research, including the American Association of Immunologists Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Washington Post has termed Dr. Allison and his wife, Dr. Padmanee Sharma, a professor of genitourinary medical oncology and immunology in the Division of Cancer Medicine at MD Anderson, as a “cancer-fighting power couple” for their collaboration in the field of research. Dr. Allison developed the love of figuring things out—building models, taking things apart trying to understand how they worked—at a very young age. He also has a love for the harmonica. He is a member of a music band of immunologists and oncologists, the Checkpoints, besides a local band called the Checkmates.
Winners over the past decade
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded 109 times to 216 Nobel Laureates between 1901 and 2018.
Here’s a list for the last 10 years.
Jeffrey C Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W Young
For discovering molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm
For discovering mechanisms for autophagy
William C Campbell and Satoshi Ōmura
For discovering a novel therapy against infections caused by roundworm parasites
For discovering a novel therapy against malaria
John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard I Moser
For discovering cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain
James E Rothman, Randy W Schekman and Thomas C Südhof
For discovering machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells
Sir John B Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka
For discovering that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent
Bruce A Beutler and Jules A Hoffmann
For discovering the activation of innate immunity
Ralph M Steinman
For discovering the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity
Robert G Edwards
For discovering the development of in vitro fertilization
Elizabeth H Blackburn, Carol W Greider, and Jack W Szostak
For discovering how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase
Harald Zur Hausen
For discovering that human papillomaviruses cause cervical cancer
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier
For discovering human immunodeficiency virus