Jürg Tschopp - Jürg Tschopp

Jürg Tschopp (* 1951 in Basel ; † March 22, 2011 in the Swiss Alps ) was a Swiss biochemist , known for his contributions to research into apoptosis and the immunology of inflammation.

Live and act

Tschopp studied chemistry in Basel (Diploma 1974) and received his doctorate in biophysics from the University of Basel in 1979 . As a post-doctoral student he was with Hans J. Müller-Eberhard at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla . In 1982 he became assistant professor and in 1989 professor at the University of Lausanne in the department of biochemistry. Since 2003 he has been deputy director of the biochemistry department.

In the early 1980s he clarified the function of the last stage of the immune response of the complement system by showing that protein C 9 kills bacteria by perforating their wall (it forms a pore in the bacterial wall with other proteins). [1] Soon afterwards, he found that cytotoxic T cells in the immune system act similarly to cancer cells; they release a molecule ( perforin ) that forms channels in the cell membrane of the cancer cell and enables the protease Granzyme to enter the cancer cell. In 2000 he found a second way how T cells initiate apoptosis (via the Fas receptor and the RIP kinase, independent of the caspase cascade mechanism).[3]

In 1996 he and colleagues found that cancer cells (melanoma) express Fas ligands on their surface as a defense against the immune system. [4]

He was also involved in the discovery of BLyS , a cytokine that stimulates the multiplication of B cells. This led to the development of a new drug for autoimmune diseases ( belimumab ).

He later devoted himself to the molecular mechanisms of inflammation. He discovered the role and function of inflammasomes, for example as a response to uric acid crystals in gout. [5] This also stimulated new drug developments (via the blockade of interleukin 1 beta). The activation of interleukin 1 beta via the NLRP3 inflammasome discovered by Tschopp also plays a role in autoimmune diseases and diabetes 2.

He died of a heart attack on a ski trip with his son in the Swiss Alps. In his youth he was a decathlete and was later active in sports.

In 2008 he received the Louis Jeantet Prize , the Novartis Clinical Immunology Prize in 2010, the San Salvador Cancer Award in 2004, the European Cell Death Organization (ECDO) Award in 2006, the Friedrich Miescher Prize in 1986 and the Max Cloëtta Prize in 1992 .


  • Vishva Dixit: Jürg Tschopp (1951–2011). Immunologist whose discoveries transformed patients' lives. In: Nature. Band 472, 2011, S. 296, doi:10.1038/472296a.
  • G. Kroemer et al : Jürg Tschopp - 1951–2011 - an immortal contribution. In: Cell Death and Differentiation. Volume 18, 2011, pp. 1087–1088, PMC 3131961 (free full text), doi: 10.1038 / cdd.2011.46 .
  • Luke A. O'Neill: Jürg Tschopp (1951–2011). In: Science. Band 332, Nr. 6030, 2011, S. 679, doi:10.1126/science.1207046.

Individual evidence

  1. Tschopp, Müller-Eberhard, Podack, Formation of transmembrane tubules by spontaneous polymerization of the hydrophilic complement protein C9, Nature, Band 298, 1982, S. 534–538, PMID 7099251
  2. Tschopp, Masson, Stanley, Structural/functional similarity between proteins involved in complement- and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-mediated cytolysis, Nature, Band 322, 1986, S. 831–834, PMID 2427956
  3. Holler, Tschopp u. a.: Fas triggers an alternative, caspase-8-independent cell death pathway using the kinase RIP as effector molecule, Nature Immunology, Band 1, 2000, S. 489–495, PMID 11101870
  4. Hahne, Tschopp u. a., Melanoma cell expression of Fas(Apo-1/CD95) ligand: implications for tumor immune escape, Science, Band 274, 1996, S. 1363–1366, PMID 8910274
  5. Martinon, Tschopp u. a., Gout-associated uric acid crystals activate the NALP3 inflammasome, Nature, Band 440, 2006, S. 237–241, PMID 16407889