George Davis Snell

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George Davis Snell (born December 19, 1903 in Bradford , Massachusetts , USA ; died June 6, 1996 in Bar Harbor , Maine , USA) was an American biologist who was mainly concerned with immunology and transplant medicine as a geneticist . In 1980 he received the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology together with Baruj Benacerraf and Jean Dausset for the discovery of genetically determined cellular surface structures that control immunological reactions. In 1976 he received a Gairdner Foundation International Award and in 1978 the William B. Coley Award .


George Davis Snell was born in Bradford in 1903. From 1922 he studied biology at Dartmouth College and from 1926 genetics at Harvard University , where he mainly researched the application of Mendelian heredity to mammals until 1928. Here he received his doctorate in 1930 and he received his first teaching position the following year at Texas University in Austin . In 1934 he went to the then leading laboratory for research into the genetics of mammals , the Rsocoe B. Jackson Memorial Laboratories in Bar Harbor. Here he was professor from 1946 to 1956 and head of the laboratories from 1957 until his retirement in 1969. In 1952 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences , 1970 to the National Academy of Sciences and 1982 to the American Philosophical Society .


George Davis Snell and his two colleagues who had been honored with him were largely concerned with the immunological compatibility of tissues after transplants . Benacerraf, Snell and Dausset were able to demonstrate in their experiments that these immune factors are genetically fixed. They are largely responsible for making it possible to investigate these factors experimentally, as they were able to demonstrate that the same factors are found on the white blood cells, the leukocytes , as in other body cells. As a result, an immune factor system could be developed which functions similarly to the blood group systems and in which defense reactions can already be carried out through tests with patient's blood.

Above all, Snell identified the genes responsible for the acceptance and rejection of exogenous tissues, while Benacerraf and Dausset were involved in the elucidation of key biochemical molecules in this histocompatibility complex.


  • Bernhard Kupfer: Lexicon of Nobel Prize Winners , Patmos Verlag Düsseldorf 2001, ISBN 3-491-72451-1

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ William B. Coley Award. In: Retrieved January 24, 2016 .
  2. ^ Gisela Baumgart: Snell, George Davis. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 1340.
  3. ^ Member History: George D. Snell. American Philosophical Society, accessed December 4, 2018 .