Basic Medical Research Award
For his contributions in immunology and specifically for his development of the fluorescent method of labeling proteins, a significant tool for the study of infection in human beings.
One of the most widely used of the newer techniques in immunology and pathology is Dr. Albert Coons's fluorescent method for the identification and localization of antigens and antibodies in tissues. A major invention in medical science during the past two decades, this tool has greatly broadened our knowledge of how the body reacts to infection.
Through this ingenious technique, Dr. Coons and his associates succeeded in making antibodies visible under a special ultraviolet microscope by tagging them with fluorescent dyes. Because antibodies react only with a specific invader, the new method has made it possible to identify a virus by tracking its attached antibody under the ultraviolet beam of the microscope.
With this technique, Dr. Coons and his associates have been able to identify the plasma cell as the principal unit engaged in antibody formation and to prove the importance in antibody production of the regional lymph nodes draining the site of antigen injection. Furthermore, his studies have indicated the probability that individual plasma cells produce antibody against only a single antigen.
Through the research of Dr. Coons, knowledge has been advanced with respect to many obscure diseases and phenomena of disease. His achievements have already been recognized by his selection to be a career investigator of the American Heart Association and a visiting professor of bacteriology and immunology at Harvard University. To these honors is now added an Albert Lasker Award in Medical Research by the American Public Health Association.
For new findings in the field of immunology and allergy which have strengthened immunization procedures against such diseases as tuberculosis, malaria, rabies and poliomyelitis.
The stature of Dr. Freund as a pioneer in the immunology research of our own era makes him a most distinguished recipient of this award for achievement in medical research. His contributions have been many and notable in shedding light upon the hitherto little-understood mechanisms of allergy and, as well, in the field of immunological agents and vaccines.
Internationally famed among the ranks of medical scientists, Dr. Freund has, through his research, clarified and added greatly to knowledge on immunization against tuberculosis, malaria, rabies and poliomyelitis, among other diseases. Techniques of scientific study developed by him have advanced knowledge in basic immunology and have provided tools used routinely in laboratory research by immunologists throughout the world today.
The significance of Dr. Freund's studies to preventive medicine may be discerned in several important developments. For example, in early investigations of poliovirus vaccines made from brain tissue, it was demonstrated that brain tissue virus produced antibody responses only with the aid of an adjuvant or auxiliary agent developed by Dr. Freund and known as the Freund adjuvant. Another area influenced by his findings is that of adjuvant influenza vaccine, which holds much promise for the future.