Jean-Paul Soulillou

Medawar Prize Laureate (2016)

Introduction of Jean-Paul Soulillou, MD, Recipient of the 2016 Medawar Prize


It is indeed a pleasure for me to introduce Jean-Paul Soulillou as the Medawar Prize Winner for 2016. I have known Jean-Paul for many years and indeed in the past served on his Advisory Board for the Nantes Transplant Institute. As we had many overlapping interests in research, especially in tolerance induction, we have always kept a close eye on each other's work. He was also a visiting professor some years ago in my department at the University of Oxford, and so I feel well qualified to introduce him as this year's Medawar Prize winner.

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Jean-Paul was born in Bordeaux in 1944and went to medical school in Bordeaux, and Nantes, graduating in 1968. He was a resident at the Nantes University Hospital and then spent a very interesting year in a “foreign organisation in healthcare” (like a French Peace Corps) in the mercury mines in Tunisia. This had quite an impact on his life, it being the first time he had been out of France and been exposed to healthcare in a poor country. At the end of his time there, he could question a patient in Arabic.

In 1974, he went to the Peter Brent Brigham Hospital as a research fellow to spend 15 months with Bernie Carpenter, and without question, this experience had a major impact on his whole future career. He also met his wife to be, Helga, in Boston, and she has been a great support for him ever since.

He returned to Nantes University, where by 1980, he had become Professor of Immunology. He was the founder and director of the prestigious Institute of Transplantation at the University of Nantes, a position he held from 1991 to 2010. He was also the founder and director of not 1, but 3 Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Medicalej (INSERM) units between 1986 and 2007. He also served on the external Advisory Board for the NIH Immune Tolerance Network and was the founder of 3 Biotech companies. He served on the editorial boards of a number of journals including the New England Journal of Medicine, American Journal of Transplantation, Transplant International, and Transplantation. He also founded the Nantes Actualitiés in Transplantation course which is held annually and remains extremely popular to this day.

As one might imagine, he has won quite a number of prizes for his work. For example, in 1998, he won the L. Binet Prize of the French Foundation of Medical Research; in 2002, the Eloi Collery Prize of the Academy of Medicine; in 2008, he was awarded The Transplantation Society Award for his outstanding achievement in transplantation science, and in 2012, he was awarded the prestigious Prix d'Honneur of INSERM (which is only given to 1 scientist each year) in recognition of his outstanding work with INSERM over many years.

He has published some 540 scientific articles, and of these, my favourites are his article in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1990 and also a follow-up in Lancet in 1997 showing that IL-2 receptor antibodies can prevent rejection; antibody to class II HLA antigens is associated with rejection (Lancet, 1978); the mechanism of immune tolerance and rejection (articles published in leading journals over many years) and another very important paper published in 1998 in the Lancet “Cancer after transplantation related to the weight of immunosuppression.”

Jean-Paul Soulillou is married to Helga, and has 3 children, Muriel, Adrien, and Marc. His only hobby is research, and he does not claim to have climbed Mount Everest, done white water rafting, played golf or, indeed, any of these rather macho pursuits, and he tells me that his only eccentricity is being French.

Jean-Paul Soulillou has been an outstanding clinical scientist in the field of transplantation, and Mr President, I cannot think of anyone worthier to be a recipient of the Medawar Prize.

Morris, Peter J.
Transplantation: December 2016 - Volume 100 - Issue 12 - p 2495-2497

The Medawar Prize Acceptance Speech 2016


Mister President, Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Colleagues and Friends.

I first would like to thank Sir Peter Morris, Prof, as I use to call him since a visiting professor stay on Oxford, for having accepted to introduce me to the audience and for his kind words. Needless to say how proud and grateful I feel for receiving this award. But I feel also very humble; humble not only in front of the iconic portrait of Peter Medawar of course but also in front of the gallery of the past Medawar Prize recipients. But more, I feel in front of this distinction as a kind of representative—only one of the several ambassadors of my generation.

Highlighted Articles


Immunosuppression minimization in kidney transplantation

Diego Cantarovich1, Fabio Vistoli1, Jean-Paul Soulillou
Frontiers in Bioscience 13, 1413-1432, January 1, 2008

Kidney transplantation is considered the best treatment for patients with end-stage renal failure, even in extreme age-groups. Immunosuppression for “life” is, however, mandatory. This chronic, somewhat unselected, inhibition of the host immune system may induce complications, such as cancer and infection, that could counterbalance the benefits achieved by the transplant.

Is clinical tolerance realistic in the next decade?

Joanna Ashton-Chess, Sophie Brouard, Jean-Paul Soulillou
Transplant International. Volume19, Issue7, July 2006, Pages 539-548

ITolerance to allografts would mean a better quality of life and prognosis for transplant patients. Despite the first descriptions of tolerance to alloantigens over 50 years ago, deliberately induced tolerance in the clinic on a wide scale remains a goal that is not quite in reach. However, much progress has been made in understanding tolerance in rodent models and in the few reports of induced or spontaneously occurring tolerance in humans. Here, we review this progress made in the quest to achieve clinical tolerance.

Relevant targets for therapy with monoclonal antibodies inallograft transplantation

Jean-Pau Soulillou
Kidney International, Vol. 46 (1994), PP. 540—553

Immunosuppressive drugs work by interacting with in-tracellular molecules involved in many biologic functions. Thesedrugs include steroids, anti-nucleic acids (azathioprine, Brequi-nar, ester of mycophenolic acid, desoxyspergalin), and anti-transcription factors (cyclosporine, FK506, rapamycin).

Highlighted Videos


Medawar Award Lecture

2016 - 26th International Congress of The Transplantation Society

The Role of Anti Neu5Gc in Xenotransplantation

2013 - IXA 2013 Congress

Jean-Paul Soulillou

Prix d'Honneur Inserm 2012

Blockade of T-Cell Homeostasis by Anti-Interleukin-7 Receptor Monoclonal Antibody Allows Indefinite Islet and Long-Term Skin Allograft Survival

2012 - TTS International Congress

Molecular signatures of human tolerance

2010 - TTS International Congress

Tribbles-1 is expressed by regulatory T cells and interacts with FOXP3

2010 - TTS International Congress

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