Philippa Marrack to Receive Rockefeller University’s Pearl Meister Greengard Prize Recognizing Outstanding Women Scientists

National Jewish researcher PhilippaMarrack, PhD, will receive on November 10 the 2005 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, a major international prize awarded by The Rockefeller University to an outstanding woman scientist.

The prize, which was established in 2004 by Rockefeller University Professor and Nobel laureate Paul Greengard, honors a female scientist who has made exceptional contributions to biomedical science. Money to fund the prize’s endowment came in part from Greengard’s share of the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

"I am honored by this award," said Dr. Marrack. "In the coming years, I hope that the award successfully highlights the vital contributions women make to the advancement of science."

An immunologist who has made fundamental discoveries about the immune system’s T cells, Dr. Marrack is a British-trained researcher who has spent most of her career at National Jewish. She and her husband, John Kappler, PhD, isolated the T cell receptor and discovered superantigens, extremely potent stimulators of the immune system responsible for toxic shock syndrome, food poisoning and other diseases.

Dr. Marrack is also widely known among immunologists for her research on memory T cells, which survive after infection and help prevent reinfection by the same microorganisms – work that has been crucial in vaccine development, HIV research and the treatment of allergy and asthma attacks.

Most recently, she has been investigating alum, a substance added to many vaccines to make them more effective. Although alum has been included in vaccines for decades, scientists have only just begun to understand how it works. Dr. Marrack will describe her work during a talk to scientists on November 11.

Marrack has published more than 300 peer-reviewed journal articles and has served on the editorial boards of numerous journals, including Cell, Science, and the Journal of Immunology. Among her many honors are the Royal Society’s Wellcome Foundation Prize (1990), the Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmtsädter Prize (1993), the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (1995), and the L’ORÉAL – UNESCO For Women In Science award (2004). She is a fellow of the UK’s Royal Society, and received the American Association of Immunologists Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

“Philippa Marrack is an outstanding scientist who has made important contributions to the field of immunology, and we are very pleased to present the second Pearl Meister Greengard Prize to her,” said Rockefeller University President Paul Nurse.

Dr. Greengard and his wife, sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard, founded the prize in part because they felt that women have historically faced obstacles in pursuing scientific careers and that other awards were not proportionately recognizing women scientists’ contributions. They named the prize in honor of Greengard’s mother, who died while giving birth to him.

Marrack will receive the award at a presentation ceremony on Thursday, November 10, in Rockefeller University’s Caspary Auditorium. The award will be presented by President Nurse and trailblazing journalist Helen Thomas.

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