6th CeMM Karl Landsteiner Lecture

How does an organism distinguish self from non-self? This was the central question of the talk that Prof. Ruslan M Medzhitov delivered to more than 300 guests, in the magnificent Festive Hall of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

A world pioneer in the field of innate immunity, Prof. Medzhitov has been working on the intricacies of the molecular mechanisms of innate immune recognition and the control of adaptive immune responses by innate immune recognition for more than 20 years. He outlined the three strategies that organisms deploy in order to deal with foreign invaders: avoidance to reduce exposure to a pathogen, resistance to reduce a pathogen burden, and tolerance to reduce a pathogen’s negative effects. The main focus of the talk was to make the audience understand tolerance to a pathogen as a crucial parameter in immunology. Analyzing virulence from an evolutionary point of view, reciting examples such as the Spanish flu of 1918, as well as describing novel experimental approaches, the speaker managed to create an intense public engagement that continued in the reception that followed. The lecture was exceptionally well attended and the historic Festive Hall was filled to capacity. The who’s who of the Viennese research community was present, with many prominent researchers among the guests.  We would like to thank Prof. Medzhitov for the exceptional lecture as well as Jussuv Karajev (violin) and Marija Köhler (piano) for the wonderful music that framed the event and managed to travel us in the majestic world of the Silk Road with folk dances from central Asia.

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