Immunome Research

Immunome Research
Open Access

ISSN: 1745-7580

Polly Matzinger

Polly Matzinger

Polly Matzinger
T-Cell Tolerance and Memory Section LIG, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)


Polly Matzinger has worked as a bartender, carpenter, jazz musician, playboy bunny, and dog trainer. She is currently chief of the ghost lab and the section on T-Cell Tolerance and Memory. She worried  for years that the dominant model of immunity does not explain a wealth of accumulated data and suggested an alternative, the Danger model, which suggests that the  immune system is far less concerned with things that are foreign than with those that do damage. This model, whose two major tenets z most  of what the immune  system seems to do right, as well as most of what it appears to do wrong, covering  areas as transplantation,autoimmunity, and the   immunobiology of tumors. The model has been the subject of a BBC "horizon" film and was featured in three other films about immunity, as well as countless articles in both the scientific and the lay press. In 2013, her section was assigned to the Laboratory of Immunogenetics. 
1986: Köln Film Festival Award for Special Excellence in Educational Films, for Das Immunsystem (German translation of Immunity: the inside story; also translated into French, Japanese, Spanish)
1996: Honorary lifetime member of the Scandinavian Society of Immunology
2002: Listed as one of The 50 Most Important Women in Science by Discover magazine, November 2002
2003: Honorary Doctorate from the Limburg’s Universitaire Centrum, Belgium
2008: Listed in Thompson’s “Highly Cited”
2009: The Fearless Scientist Award yearly scholarship given in honor of Polly Matzinger to a student at the University of Rhode Island

Research Interest
  • Danger model of immunity
  • Tissue-based class control
  • Immune tolerance and activation