For a long time now, I have wanted to express my feelings about events relating to my work on immunity in Drosophila and the Cell 1996 paper in which the role of Toll in the antifungal response is described. The 2011 Nobel prize has now precipitated my response. I know some of you may think this is a little too late, but this has not been easy for me. Even now, I do not know whether it is such a good idea to raise these issues.I have set up a website where you will find background information relating to this matter (points 1 and 2). I have also included personal perspectives about these key discoveries and how they have been ‘marketed’ (points 3 and 4). Now that I have finally written these texts, I understand better why I have had such mixed feelings about the choice of the Nobel Laureates However, this website is also a way for me to turn the page and move on with a lighter heart.
Bruno Lemaitre Lausanne, December 4th 2011
1) Resources: (3 papers with their review)
2) A .pdf version of the article “the road to Toll (pdf)” (for specialists)
In 2004, I wrote a history, describing the discovery of the Toll and Imd immune pathways, for Nature Review Immunology. In this review, I tried to indicate the path that I had followed, remaining close to the results and indicating where chance had intervened (it is not a “re-construction” although some steps were simplified). This paper illustrates the complexity of contemporary science, integrating as it does information from many different fields. During the review process, I was asked to make many changes, such as replacing “I” by “We”. Therefore, I have not expressed my thoughts as frankly as I might have. Document 3 provides a better description of how the work was done from a human perspective. The articulation between the Cell’96 paper and other work leading to the discoveries of the immune role of Toll-like receptors in mammals is better described in Document 4.
3) Mixed feelings about the Nobel prize 2011 (A human scientific experience)
In this text, I discussed the context of the work on Toll in the Drosophila immune response and how it was marketed. This is also a personal perspective explaining why I have a mixed feeling about the choice of the Nobel prize committee. It should not be taken as a contestation of the prize, but rather as the reasons for my mixed feeling.
LINKS: Main text.pdf (View on line) Supplementary_text.pdf Fig_S1.pdf FigS2.xlsx
4) Repositioning the Cell’96 paper in the context of the TLR (Toll-like receptor) discovery (My personal perspective).
Here, I reposition the 1996 Cell paper in the context of the discovery of TLRs as the receptors of the innate immune response.
LINKS: Main text.pdf (View on line)