Jules A. Hoffmann PhD

Recipient of the Canada Gairdner International Award, 2011
"For his ground-breaking discovery of the family of Toll like receptors and the array of microbial compounds that they recognize to provide innate resistance to infection."

Institut de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, CNRS and Université de Strasbourg

The challenge: To find out what the natural immune response is that recognizes foreign bacteria and viruses.
The work: Toll like receptors in the body’s cells sense microbes and mobilize the immune system to fight infection and develop long-term immunity.
Why it matters: The work leads to the development of medicines and therapies for cancer, allergies, autoimmune diseases and septic shock.

Jules Hoffmann was born in Luxembourg and received his PhD (1969) in Biology from the University of Strasbourg. He has held various positions with the French National Research Agency (CNRS), most recently that of Distinguished Class Research Director and Member of the Board of Administration. He also serves as an Invited Professor at the University of Strasbourg. He was Director of the CNRS Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology in Strasbourg (1993-2005). 

Dr. Hoffmann’s research has focused on the development and the defence reactions of insects. Since 1990, he and his laboratory have explored the potent antimicrobial mechanisms of Drosophila as a paradigm for innate immune defences. In particular, the group is credited with having unravelled the role of Toll receptors in fighting infections. 

A Member of the French National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Hoffmann served as President from 2007-08. He is a Member of the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) and the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Dr. Hoffmann is a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Russian Academy of Sciences. He is the recipient of the Alexander von Humbold Price, the William B. Coley Award, the Robert Koch Prize, the Balzan Prize, the Lewis Rosenstiel Prize and the Keio Prize for Medical Sciences.

Key Papers 

GEORGEL P, REICHHART JM & HOFFMANN JA (1995). A recessive mutation, immune-deficiency (imd), defines two distinct control pathways in the Drosophila host defense. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. Vol 92 9465-9469

LEMAITRE B, NICOLAS E, MICHAUT L, REICHHART JM & HOFFMANN JA (1996). Gairdner Review Sheet 2009 2 The dorsoventral regulatory gene cassette spaetzle/toll/cactus controls the potent antifungal response in Drosophila adults. Cell. Vol 86 973-983

HOFFMANN JA, KAFATOS FC, JANEWAY CA JR & EZEKOWITZ RAB (1999). Phylogenetic perspectives in innate immunity. Science. Vol 284 1313-1318

GEORGEL, P., NAITZA S., KAPPLER, C., FERRANDON, D., ZACHARY, D., SWIMMER, C., KOPCZYNSKI, C., DUYK, G., REICHHART, J-M., AND HOFFMANN, J.A. ( 2001). Drosophila Immune Deficiency (IMD) is a Death Domain Protein that Activates Antibacterial Defence and Can Promote Apoptosis. Developmental Cell. Vol 1, 1-20, 503-514

MICHEL T, REICHHART JM, HOFFMANN JA & ROYET J. (2001). Drosophila Toll is activated by Gram-positive bacteria via a circulating peptidoglycan recognition protein. Nature. Vol 414, 756-759