Jean-Baptiste-Gabriel-Joachim Dausset

Jean-Baptiste-Gabriel-Joachim Dausset

French hematologist and immunologist whose studies of the genetic basis of the immunological reaction earned him a share (with George Snell and Baruj Benacerraf) of the 1980 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine.
After serving with the Free French forces in World War II, Dausset resumed his interrupted medical studies and took his degree from the University of Paris in 1945. He pursued advanced studies at Harvard University and later became laboratory director of the National Blood Transfusion Centre. From 1958 to 1977 he was associate professor and then professor of immunohematology at the University of Paris, and from 1977 he was professor of experimental medicine at the College de France.

In investigating the immunological reactions of patients who had received many blood transfusions, Dausset correctly hypothesized that a specific genetic variation among people accounted for the different levels of reaction. He eventually demonstrated the existence of a gene complex that he designated HLA (human leucocyte antigen) and that proved to be analogous to the H-2 complex in the mouse studied by Snell; both came to be seen as types of the major histocompatability complex (MHC) characteristic of all vertebrates.

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