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The H2 Club


The Prague school of immunogenetics
Jan Klein Scientist
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There were... the H2 had two faces. Before I forget Gorer died before he could get his Nobel prize and I think he would have gotten it if he lived long enough. George Snell got the prize and I think it was one of the most deserved prizes that the committee in Stockholm awarded. I might say later why I think so. Anyway so they went little bit different ways, but eventually they again came together.

But in the meantime several other of us became interested. So I mentioned already Jack Stimpfling. Jack Stimpfling worked with Snell for a while and then became independent and continued the H2 work. Then there was Bernard Amos who worked with Gorer for a time and published some important papers on H2 with him. And Hecker worked with both Gorer and Snell. So these were the people who were at the very beginning of the H2 and then there was so called Prague School of Immunogenetics.

As I said before when I came to the institute there was... there were two directions in the institute... Hašek's institute. One was immunological... purely immunological... and the other was tumor biology... viral tumor biology. Pavol was fiddling with the blood groups in rabbits, but eventually he gave it up and I began to work on the H2. Then a few others joined us. Pavol became interested in H2 and so that we form a group that in the west was for a time referred to the Prague school of immunogenetics. Ivan Hilgert was trying heroically, I would say, to chemically isolate and identify the H2 antigens and didn't get unfortunately to the right goal. It turned out to be very difficult because they were part of the membrane so it was easy to... difficult to get them out of the membrane. Then there was Alena Lengerová and a few others... Peter Demant joined Pavol Ivanyi a little bit later.  But there was a group of us who were in some way concentrated in their interest on the H2, primarily. But each of us a little bit different angle and each of us in some... with different approaches to the H2.

Born in 1936, Jan Klein is a Czech-American immunologist who co-founded the modern science of immunogenetics – key to understanding illness and disease. He is the author or co-author of over 560 scientific publications and of seven books including 'Where Do We Come From?' which examines the molecular evolution of humans. He graduated from the Charles University at Prague in 1955, and received his MS in Botany from the same school in 1958. From 1977 to his retirement in 2004, he was the Director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology at Tübingen, Germany.

Listeners: Colm O'hUigin

Colm O'hUigin is a senior staff scientist at the US National Cancer Institute. He received his BA, MSc and PhD at the Genetics Department of Trinity College, Dublin where he later returned as a lecturer. He has held appointments at the Center for Population and Demographic Genetics, UT Houston, and at the University of Cambridge. As an EMBO fellow, he moved in 1990 to the Max Planck Institute for Biology in Tübingen, Germany to work with Jan Klein and lead a research group studying the evolutionary origins of immune molecules, of teeth, trypanosomes and of species.

Tags: Prague School of Immunogenetics, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, Jack H Stimpfling, George Davis Snell, Dennis Bernard Amos, Milan Hašek, Pavol Ivanyi, Ivan Hilgert, Peter Demant, Alena Lengerová, Donald C Shreffler

Duration: 3 minutes, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: August 2005

Date story went live: 24 January 2008