[Skip to Content]

Niels K. Jerne

1911-94, Danish physician and immunologist.

After occupying professorial chairs in Switzerland, USA and Germany he headed the independent Basel Institute for Immunology in Switzerland 1969-80, an institution with no commercial obligations, established especially for him by the pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche. During his time of office the Institute became the international centre for immunological research.

Jerne finished his career as professor at the Institut Pasteur in Paris (1981-82). He formulated several new theories on the way in which white blood corpuscles form antibodies, thus overturning accepted assumptions.

According to the final theory he formulated, the network theory (1973), the organism forms antibodies combatting its own antibodies in such a way that a kind of immunological balance and an exchange of information is established in the immune system in the same way as in the central nervous system.

Together with Georges Köhler and César Milstein, Jerne was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology/Medicine in 1984.

Nils Engelbrecht, Gyldendal Leksikon

other great danes

The lives and achievements of all these Great Danes and many more are outlined in biographies of varying lengths on these pages. Read more about The Great Danes