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Immunologist Philippa Marrack to receive Rockefeller University’s Pearl Meister Greengard Prize

The second annual Pearl Meister Greengard Prize, a major international prize awarded by The Rockefeller University to an outstanding woman scientist, will be presented to immunologist Philippa Marrack on November 10.

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

Greengard and his wife, sculptor Ursula von Rydingsvard, made the decision to found 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.

An immunologist who has made fundamental discoveries about the immune system’s T cells, Philippa Marrack is a British trained researcher who has spent most of her career at the National Jewish Hospital and Research Center and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver. She is 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. Marrack also identified and named “superantigens,” potent immunological activators that induce toxic shock and other illnesses.

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) and the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (1995). 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,” says Paul Nurse, the university’s president.

Marrack will receive the award and speak at a presentation ceremony on Thursday, November 10, at 6:30 p.m. in Rockefeller University’s Caspary Auditorium. The award will be presented by President Nurse and Helen Thomas, a trailblazing journalist who is the former White House Bureau Chief for UPI and has covered every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy. Thomas also will speak briefly about her career as a female journalist.

The event is open to the public. Please RSVP to Amanda Martinez at or (212) 327-7728.