Intended for healthcare professionals


Leslie Brent: junior member of the “holy trinity of immunology”

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 10 March 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m977
  1. John Illman
  1. London, UK
  1. john{at}
Photo credit: Steve Back/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

As a doctoral student at University College London, Leslie Baruch Brent was the co-discoverer of acquired immune tolerance with his department head, Peter Medawar, and a doctoral researcher, Rupert Billingham. Their work revolutionised understanding of what was involved in transferring tissue from one person to another, providing the basis for tissue and organ transplantation—and the saving of hundreds of thousands of lives.

The three were dubbed the “holy trinity of immunology,” and their work underpinned research in the area for decades. The groundbreaking paper, “Actively acquired tolerance of foreign cells,” was published in Nature in 1953, the same year as Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA.

After jointly winning the Nobel prize in 1960 with the Australian immunologist Frank Macfarlane Burnet, Medawar shared his prize money with Brent and Billingham and wrote: “I wish to make it absolutely clear that it is in no way a present but comes to you as of …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription