Ruslan M. Medzhitov, Ph.D., the David W. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in April for excellence in original scientific research. Medzhitov came to Yale in 1994 as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of the late Charles A. Janeway Jr., M.D. While a graduate student at Moscow State University, Medzhitov had become fascinated by Janeway’s theory regarding the interaction of the innate and adaptive immune systems. In 1996, the two researchers made the groundbreaking discovery that Toll-like receptors, a component of the innate system, provide the adaptive system with the necessary information to create custom-made B and T cells that target specific bacterial or viral invaders.

Since then, Toll-like receptors have become the subject of intense research activity in laboratories around the world. In December, Medzhitov received the 2010 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science.

Medzhitov was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, and earned a B.S. degree at Tashkent State University before pursuing a doctorate in biochemistry at Moscow State University. 

His election as one of 72 new members of the National Academy of Sciences brings the number of current Yale faculty who are members to 60. He will be inducted into the Academy next April during its 148th annual meeting in Washington, D.C.