Ruslan Medzhitov

2007 Regional Award Winner — Faculty

Ruslan Medzhitov

Current Position:
Professor of Immunobiology; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute

Yale University

Immunology & Microbiology

Recognized for: His contributions to immunology; discovering and characterizingthe first mammalian Toll-like receptor (TLR)

Areas of Research Interest and Expertise: Inflammation; allergy; immunology; innate immunity; pathophysiology


  • PhD, Moscow State University
  • BS, Tashkent State University

Ruslan Medzhitov studies how the immune system detects and subsequently becomes activated by infection. His research interests include analysis of the immune system, host-pathogen interactions, inflammation, cell signaling, and gene regulation.  In his 1997 Nature paper, Dr. Medzhitov discovered and characterized the first of mammalian Toll-like receptors (TLRs)—the key immune system receptors that detect infection—and suggested a fundamental link between innate immune recognition and the activation of the adaptive immune response. The paper is said to have spawned a new field of study, now known as "modern innate immunity."

Through his study of the function of TLRs, he has defined essential elements of their signaling pathway, identified their role in connecting innate immune response to the adaptive responses of B and T cells, explained their role in spontaneous colitis mediated by commensal micro-organisms, and established the nature of Toll-dependent selection of microbial antigens for presentation by dendritic cells. TLRs are now recognized as integral parts of the innate immune system that fight off microbial infections and detect associated damage.

In 2010, Dr. Medzhitov was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, USA, and in 2013 to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy for his pioneering contributions to the understanding of innate immunity.  In the same year, Ruslan Medzhitov was awarded the inaugural Else Kröner-Fresenius-Foundation international prize in Immunology, the inaugural Lurie Prize in the Biomedical Sciences, and shared the 2013 Vilcek Prize for his long-standing and influential work on the innate immune system.

Key Publications:

  1. Palm NW, Rosenstein RK, Medzhitov R. Allergic host defences. Nature. 2012 Apr 25.
  2. Medzhitov R, Schneider DS, Soares MP. Disease tolerance as a defense strategy.  Science. 2012 Feb 24.
  3. Medzhitov R, Preston-Hurlburt P, A. Janeway C. Jr. A human homologue of the Drosophila Toll protein signals activation of adaptive immunity. Nature 388, 394-397, 24 July 1997.

Other Honors:

2000 Searle Scholar
2003 William B. Coley Award “For Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology”, Cancer Research Institute
2004 Master of Arts Privatum, Yale University
2004 Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar Award in Global Infectious Disease
2004 Emil von Behring Award
2005 NIH Merit Award
2006 AAI –BD Biosciences Investigator Award
2007 Doctor Honoris Causae, University of Munich
2007 Endowed Chair -David W. Wallace Professor of Immunobiology,
2008 Howard Taylor Ricketts Award “For outstanding contributions in a field of the medical sciences”, The University of Chicago
2010 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award “For Pioneering Studies of Innate Immune System”, Brandeis University
2010 Member, National Academy of Sciences, USA
2011 Member, Connecticut Academy of Science & Engineering
2011 Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology
2011 The Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine Award
2012 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
2012 Doctor Honoris Causae, Utrecht University
2012 Professor Honoris Causae, Moscow University
2013 Member, EMBO
2013 Vilcek Foundation Prize, New York
2013 Inaugural Lurie Prize, Chicago
2013 Inaugural Else Kröner Fresenius Stiftung Prize, Germany
2013 Member, Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, USA

In the Media:

Ruslan Medzhitov interview: The master immunologist with a controversial answer to why allergies exist. The Independent. April 12, 2015
Bee sting venom can help develop immunity to bee stings. Yale News. October 24, 2013
President and professor — Salovey and Medzhitov — elected to Institute of Medicine. Yale News.  October 21, 2013
Yale immunologist wins new €4 million award. Nature Medicine. 05 Jun 2013
Feinberg Hosts Inaugural Lurie Prize Award Ceremony.  Northwestern University News. May 15, 2013
Finding a New Way to Manage Infections.  HHMI News. April 25, 2013
Pioneering Yale immunologist Ruslan Medzhitov receives inaugural NIH award. Yale News. February 26, 2013
Two Yale researchers who study the immune system share Vilcek Prize. Yale News. February 13, 2013