Nobel-winning immunologist Benacerraf dies at 90

August 2, 2011 - 3:00 PM

BOSTON (AP) — Baruj Benacerraf (bar-OOK' ben-ah-seh-RAHF'), a Venezuelan-born immunologist who shared the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, has died. He was 90.

His family says in a statement that Benacerraf died Tuesday of pneumonia at his Boston home.

Benacerraf discovered that genetic factors played a central role in the function of the immune system. The finding led to a Nobel Prize for him and colleagues.

He also led the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. As president of the Boston-based institute, Benacerraf recruited top researchers and oversaw its expansion.

Benacerraf was born in Caracas, Venezuela. He was of Spanish-Jewish ancestry and was raised in Paris. He came to the U.S. in 1939 to attend Columbia University and the Medical College of Virginia.