Peter C. Doherty

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Peter Doherty
Peter C. Doherty 2017.jpg
Born Peter Charles Doherty
15 October 1940 (1940-10-15) (age 77)[1]
Brisbane, Queensland
Nationality Australian
Alma mater
Known for Major histocompatibility complex
Awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1996)
Australian of the Year (1997)
Leeuwenhoek Lecture (1999)[2]
Scientific career
Fields Medicine
Institutions John Curtin School of Medical Research
Australian National University
Thesis Studies in the experimental pathology of louping-ill encephalitis (1970)
Doctoral advisor G. L. Montgomery
J. T. Stamp[3]

Peter Charles Doherty, FRS AC FMedSci (born 15 October 1940)[1] is an Australian veterinary surgeon and researcher in the field of medicine. He received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1995, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Rolf M. Zinkernagel[4] in 1996 and was named Australian of the Year in 1997.[5] In the Australia Day Honours of 1997, he was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for his work with Zinkernagel.[6] He is also a National Trust Australian Living Treasure.[7] In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, Doherty's immune system research was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as an iconic "innovation and invention".[8]

Education and early life

Doherty was born in Brisbane, Queensland, where he attended Indooroopilly State High School (which now has a lecture theatre named after him). He received his bachelor's degree in veterinary science in 1962 and his master's degree in veterinary science in 1966 from the University of Queensland. After obtaining his PhD in 1970 from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland[3], he returned to Australia to perform his Nobel Prize-winning research at the John Curtin School of Medical Research within the Australian National University in Canberra.

Research and career

Doherty's research focuses[9][10] on the immune system and his Nobel work described how the body's immune cells protect against viruses. He and Rolf Zinkernagel, the co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, discovered how T cells recognise their target antigens in combination with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins.[citation needed]

Viruses infect host cells and reproduce inside them. Killer T-cells destroy those infected cells so that the viruses cannot reproduce. Zinkernagel and Doherty discovered that, in order for killer T cells to recognise infected cells, they had to recognise two molecules on the surface of the cell – not only the virus antigen, but also a molecule of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). This recognition was done by a T-cell receptor on the surface of the T cell. The MHC was previously identified as being responsible for the rejection of incompatible tissues during transplantation. Zinkernagel and Doherty discovered that the MHC was responsible for the body fighting meningitis viruses too.[11]

His semi-autobiographical book, The Beginner's Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize,[12] was published in 2005. A Light History of Hot Air was published in 2007 by Melbourne University Press.[13] In 2012 he published the book Sentinel Chickens.[14] His fourth book The Knowledge Wars was published in 2015.[15]

Awards and honours

Doherty was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1987.[2] He is the patron of the eponymous Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, a joint venture between the University of Melbourne and Melbourne Health. It houses a group of infection and immunology experts, including Director Professor Sharon Lewin, who are charged with leading the battle against infectious diseases in humans. This became operational in 2014.[16] He became an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (FMedSci) in 2015.[17] In the same year he was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences (FAHMS).[18] In April 2017 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Victoria (FRSV).[19]

Both John Monash Science School[20] and Moreton Bay Boys College[21] have a house named after him.

Personal life

Doherty has a younger brother named Ian and had two parents named Linda and Eric.[22] Doherty currently[when?] spends three months of the year conducting research at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where he is a faculty member at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center through the College of Medicine.[23] For the other 9 months of the year, he works in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne, Victoria.


  1. ^ a b Anon (2017). Doherty, Prof. Peter Charles. Who's Who (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.13865.  closed access publication – behind paywall (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b "Peter Doherty". 
  3. ^ a b Doherty, Peter Charles (1970). Studies in the experimental pathology of louping-ill encephalitis. (PhD thesis). hdl:1842/17153. EThOS 699841.  Free to read
  4. ^ "Peter Doherty - Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative". Nobel Prize Inspiration Initiative. 
  5. ^ Lewis, Wendy (2010). Australians of the Year. Pier 9 Press. ISBN 978-1-74196-809-5. 
  6. ^ "It's an Honour - Honours - Search Australian Honours". 
  7. ^ "Peter C. Doherty, PhD". 
  8. ^ Bligh, Anna (10 June 2009). "PREMIER UNVEILS QUEENSLAND'S 150 ICONS". Queensland Government. Archived from the original on 24 May 2017. Retrieved 24 May 2017. 
  9. ^ Peter C. Doherty publications indexed by Google Scholar
  10. ^ 56489776600 Peter C. Doherty publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  11. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1996 – Illustrated Presentation". 
  12. ^ The Beginner's Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize: The Miegunyah Press, an imprint of Melbourne University Publishing Ltd, 2005[ISBN missing]
  13. ^ A Light History of Hot Air (2011)[ISBN missing]
  14. ^ Miegunyah Press, accessed 8 July 2014[ISBN missing]
  15. ^ "Interview: Peter Doherty, Nobel Prize Winner for Medicine in 1996", in ABC Lateline, 25 August 2015[ISBN missing]
  16. ^ "Peter Doherty Institute, University of Melbourne". 
  17. ^ "Report of the Annual Fellows' Meeting 2015 - The Academy of Medical Sciences". 
  18. ^ "Fellowship | AAHMS – Australian Academy of Health and Medical Sciences". Retrieved 2018-06-26. 
  19. ^ "Elected Fellows of the Royal Society of Victoria - The Royal Society of Victoria". The Royal Society of Victoria. Retrieved 2018-06-27. 
  20. ^ "House Programs". Retrieved 2018-06-26. 
  21. ^ "Moreton Bay Boys' College School House Program". Moreton Bay Boys' College. Retrieved 2018-06-26. 
  22. ^ "Peter C. Doherty - Biographical". Retrieved 7 March 2017. 
  23. ^ "UTHSC people search". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. 

External links

  • Peter Doherty's Nobel Lecture
  • Radio Interview from This Week in Science 5 September 2005 broadcast
  • "Winning a Nobel: easy as wrestling a pig", by Margaret Wertheim, Cosmos magazine, October 2006
  • Peter Doherty delivers the opening address at the 2009 Melbourne Festival of Ideas on ABC Fora (video)
  • Peter Doherty addresses the Vic Skeptics – Scepticism, Denial and Ignorance: There is a Difference on YouTube (video)

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