Ireland 2004: Shigekazu Nagata

In 1991 the oncology world was startled to learn that the primary lesion in many tumors was not a lesion in cell cycle but rather one in apoptosis. One of these very important papers was “The polypeptide encoded by the cDNA for human cell surface antigen Fas can mediate apoptosis.” by Itoh N, Yonehara S, Ishii A, Yonehara M, Mizushima S, Sameshima M, Hase A, Seto Y, Nagata S. in Cell. 1991 66: 233-43.

With this seminal paper Shige and his team quickly moved to identifying mutations of the genes for Fas and Fas Ligand as causes of lupus-like syndromes in mice, thereby opening the question of the role of apoptosis in the immune system as a central issue in health and disease of the hematopoietic system. The Nagata laboratory has continued to make many contributions to our understanding of apoptosis in the development, physiology, and pathology of the immune and central nervous systems, and he remains a leading contributor to the field.