Ruslan Medzhitov, Ph.D., the David A. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, has been awarded the inaugural Lurie Prize in the Biomedical Sciences from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. The award, which honors early-career researchers whose findings have advanced basic biomedical science, was given to Medzhitov for his groundbreaking discoveries about the workings of the innate immune system. A jury of scientists selected Medzhitov from a group of 154 nominees. The award, which carries an honorarium of $100,000, will be presented to Medzhitov at a ceremony in Chicago on May 14.

Medzhitov came to Yale in 1994 as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Charles A. Janeway Jr., M.D. The two researchers made the breakthrough discovery that a human toll-like receptor, a component of the innate immune system, provides the adaptive immune system with the necessary information to create custom-made B and T cells that target specific bacterial or viral invaders through recognition of basic molecular patterns shared by microbial pathogens. Since then, toll-like receptors have become the subject of intense research activity in laboratories around the world.