Philippe Kourilsky Molecular Immunology (1998-2012)



Honorary Director General of the Pasteur Institute
Chairman of the Singapore Immunology Network

Education and Research

Philippe Kourilsky joined the Pasteur Institute in 1972 and spent most of his career as a member of CNRS (Central National de la Recherche Scientifique) before being elected in 1998 to the Collège de France where he held the Chair of Molecular Immunology. He has been an adviser for biotechnologies in the French Ministry of Research and has participated in the administration of various research Institutions. In 1981, he was the co-founder of Transgène, a biotech company. From 1993 to 1996, he was the Director of Research of Pasteur Mèrieux Connaught (now Sanofi Pasteur) a leading vaccine company. From 2000-2005, he was appointed Director General of the Pasteur Institute and chaired the International network of Pasteur Institutes. He graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris in 1964 and obtained his PhD in 1970 from the University of Paris. He had a rapid scientific career both in academic and corporate settings. He was first involved in the analysis of lysogenisation by bacteriophage lambda. Then his pioneering work in genetic engineering led to the first cloning and expression of an eukaryotic gene, the cloning and characterization of structure and regulation of mouse class I MHC-genes and others. In immunology, he developed new concepts involving the presentation of self-peptides on MHC molecules, the mechanisms underlying alloreactivity and self-tolerance, the detailed analysis of T-cell repertoires, and the cellular response and granuloma formation in mycobacterial infections. His work provided both a basic contribution to the understanding of immunity to tumors (e.g. the involvement of self-peptides in tumor immunity and the analysis of T cell receptor heterogeneity in tumor-infiltrating T cells) and translational applications (e.g. the use of transfected tumor cells in cancer vaccines).

Pr Philippe Kourilsky is the author of some 350 publications in international scientific journals. He has also written several books dealing with science and the public, with the precautionary principle, and research issues related to infectious disease worldwide. Besides being Professor and Chair of Molecular Immunology at the College de France since 1998, Pr Philippe Kourilsky is a member of the French Academy of Sciences, of EMBO and Academia Europea. He has been sitting from 2006 to 2008 in the High Council of Science and Technology which advises the President and the Prime Minister of the French Republic. He has been sitting for many years on the Board of Directors of several major public and private institutions including the Ecole Polytechnique and he currently sits on the Board of the Veolia Environment company in which he chairs the Innovation Committee. He has been the recipient of a number of honors and awards. He is "Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur" and "Commandeur de l'Ordre National du Mérite" and. Dr Kourilsky has also been a member of the Singapore Biomedical Sciences International Advisory Council BMS IAC from 2000 to 2006. In addition, from Jan 2006, he has taken on the position as the Chairman of the Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN). As such, he is promoting the development of a large human immunology platform in Biopolis (Singapore).