Nobel Prize awarded to former UC Berkeley research director

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Immunologist and former director of the UC Berkeley Cancer Research Laboratory James Allison was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine Monday.

Allison, who shared the prize with Tasuku Honjo of Kyoto University, was appointed a campus professor of immunology and director of the Cancer Research Laboratory in 1985 and stayed there for 20 years, according to a campus press release. He is now chair of immunology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Allison began his research on T-cell responses at UC Berkeley and has pioneered a monoclonal antibody therapy that targets immune cells rather than specific tumors, according to the Lasker Foundation, which awarded Allison its 2015 Lasker-DeBakey Clinical Medical Research Award.

“I don’t know if I could have accomplished this work anywhere else than Berkeley,” Allison said in the press release. “I always tell people that it was one of the happiest times of my life, with the academic environment, the enthusiasm, the students, the faculty.”

Allison’s therapy was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2011 to treat malignant melanoma and has since led to several related therapies for lung, prostate and other cancers.

Anjali Shrivastava is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anjalii_shrivas.