Hidde Ploegh
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An acclaimed researcher whose work focuses on the immune system, Hidde Ploegh joined The Whitehead Institute in 2005. Prior to that, he was a Professor of Pathology at the Harvard Medical School where he headed the school’s immunology program since 1997. Ploegh has also been a Professor of Biology at MIT, working primarily in the Center for Cancer Research.

Ploegh has been interested in the molecular mechanisms by which the immune system responds to antigens—substances such as toxins, bacteria, or foreign cells from transplants which, when entering the body, trigger the production of antibodies. His recent focus has been on how certain viral proteins interfere with this process.

Ploegh’s research has contributed to the understanding of the immune system. He discovered a new mechanism by which viruses evade the immune system. Ploegh and his coworkers have been particularly interested in generating the chemical tools with which to probe a particular family of enzymes called proteases that are a key component of one of the major mechanisms by which proteins are degraded in cells.

Ploegh’s 300-plus research papers include the June 24, 2004 cover story for the journal Nature, which described one of the mechanisms by which the immune system eliminates misfolded proteins. Ploegh has been working on members of the herpes virus family and plans to begin studying influenza at The Whitehead Institute.

Ploegh’s honors include Correspondent of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences, National Institutes of Health Merit Award, Avery-Landsteiner Prize, and member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


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