SAN DIEGO – James Allison, whose early work at Scripps Research in La Jolla set him on a path to using the immune system to successfully fight cancer, reached the pinnacle of science Monday when he was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.
Allison will share the prize with Japan’s Tasuku Honjo for work that “takes advantage of the immune system’s ability to attack cancer cells by releasing the brakes on immune cells,” the Karolinksa Institute in Sweden said in making the decision, the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The 70-year-old Allison worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Research from 1974-77, when the center was known as the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation.
Early on, he was stuck doing work as a biochemist instead of exploring his passion for immunology. But he managed to switch fields, which changed his life and helped show the value of rallying the immune system to fight cancer.
“With another postdoc I did some side experiments on how tumors are recognized by the immune system,” Allison told the Journal of Clinical Investigation in 2016.