10. November 2020

Faculty of Medicine confers honorary doctorate to Professor Jacques Miller Faculty of Medicine confers honorary doctorate to immunologist Professor Jacques Miller

Simultaneous ceremonies on two continents through videoconferencing

The University of Bonn Faculty of Medicine has awarded an honorary doctorate to renowned Australia-based immunologist Prof. Dr. Jacques Francis Albert Pierre Miller. The award ceremony was conducted online due to the corona pandemic, held as part of the Digital Cluster Science Days 2020 organized by the ImmunoSensation Cluster of Excellence2.

Honorary doctorate
Honorary doctorate © Photo: Gregor Hübl/Uni Bonn
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The ceremony took place via simultaneous videoconferencing between the lecture hall of Biomedical Center I on the Venusberg Campus and Melbourne, Australia, where Professor Miller (89) is Professor Emeritus at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. One of Miller’s former doctoral students, Professor Robyn Slattery, presented the diploma following the ceremonial pronouncement of awarding of the honorary doctorate by Professor Bernd Weber as Dean representing the University of Bonn. Speeches in honor of the recipient were made by Leibniz Prize winner Professor Christian Kurts and by Professor Sammy Bedoui, Bonn University Ambassador in Melbourne, Australia.

The ImmunoSensation Cluster of Excellence2 had lobbied the Faculty to confer the degree in recognition of Professor Miller’s outstanding achievement in the field of immunology. Born in Nice, France, Miller earned recognition in the 1960s for proving that the thymus is a critically important component of the innate immune system as the organ where T cells are formed. The existence of these was previously unknown as well as their key role in immunological memory against bacteria, viruses and cancer.

Professor Miller has close ties with the University of Bonn, which is partners with the University of Melbourne in operating The Bonn and Melbourne Research and Graduate School (Bo&MeRanG) for the Immunosciences. The Graduate School’s spokesman, Professor Christian Kurts, was a postdoctoral fellow of Professor Miller’s working group in Melbourne. Miller visited Bonn three years ago, holding a lecture that inspired students and researchers alike, as Professor Kurts recounted: “Professor Miller is the only individual alive today who has discovered the function of an organ. His work was of crucial impact to our modern understanding of immunology and the immune system, and is of key importance with regard to vaccination, which is a critical issue in the present corona crisis.”

Professor Miller’s findings laid the scientific foundation for modern cancer immunotherapy and for deciphering the role of lymphocytes in immune defense and transplant rejection. In recognition of his work, in 2019 Professor Miller received the highly prestigious Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research. Numerous Lasker Prize winners have gone on to receive a Nobel Prize.

Media contact:

Prof. Dr. Christian Kurts
Phone: +49 (0) 228 287-11050
Email: ckurts@uni-bonn.de

Honorary doctorate via "Zoom"
Honorary doctorate via "Zoom" - Top left: Jacques Miller received the certificate from Robyn Slattery. Sammy Bedoui (top right) and Christian Kurts (bottom left) gave the laudation. Below right: Dean Bernd Weber. © Photo: Gregor Hübl/Uni Bonn
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