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Philippa "Pippa" Marrack, FRS (born 28 June 1945) is an English immunologist and academic, based in the United States, best known for her research and discoveries pertaining to T cells. Marrack is the Ida and Cecil Green Professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Research at National Jewish Health and a distinguished professor of immunology and microbiology at the University of Colorado Denver.[1]

Philippa Marrack
Born (1945-06-28) 28 June 1945 (age 78)
Ewell, England
Other namesPippa Marrack
Alma materNew Hall, Cambridge (University of Cambridge) (M.A., Ph.D)
Known fordiscovery of T cell receptor, discovery of superantigens, T cells, autoimmune disease
SpouseJohn W. Kappler
AwardsMember, National Academy of Sciences (1989)
Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize (1995)
Dickson Prize (1996)
Fellow, Royal Society (1997)
L'Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science (2004)
National Women's Hall of Fame (2015)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, San Diego
University of Rochester
National Jewish Health
University of Colorado Denver
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Doctoral advisorAlan Munro
WebsiteKM lab website


Marrack was born in Ewell, England on 28 June 1945.[2][3] Born in England, she maintains her British and American citizenship currently.[4] Marrack's father served in the Royal Navy, so her family moved frequently throughout her childhood. Marrack notes that the longest she lived in one place during her early years was in Cambridge where she began pursuing her undergraduate degree.[4] After attending Cambridge University, Marrack moved to the United States to complete postdoctoral work and research. In the United States she met her lifelong partner and husband, John W. Kappler. They have completed much research and accomplished many advancements in the fields of immunology, biochemistry, and molecular biology.[5] Marrack and Kappler have two children together.[6] Outside of science, Philippa Marrack enjoys playing the piano, as well as running along the Platte River with her Labradors.[4]


Marrack completed both undergraduate (1967) and Ph.D. (1970) at Cambridge University in New Hall, Cambridge. During her Ph.D., Marrack worked at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology with Alan Munro, where she began to study the differences between T cells and B cells. Alan Munro became her thesis advisor; she became the graduate student that worked with him due to his interest in working with a relative of John Marrack. John Marrack was Philippa Marrack's grandfather's brother, and a very well-known immunologist in the 1930s. Marrack notes that he indirectly influenced her to pursue the study of immunology.[4]

Marrack then moved to La Jolla, San Diego with her first husband and completed postdoctoral work with Richard Dutton at the University of California, San Diego.[7] She credits Dutton as having a tremendous impact on her career during her fellowship, as he taught her how to write, lecture, and run a lab, as well as how to think critically.[4]


Marrack met her lifelong partner and current husband, John W. Kappler, as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. Her first faculty position was at the University of Rochester, where she taught an undergraduate immunology course.[7] The pair launched a joint lab at the University of Rochester.[8] At the same time, she received independent funding from the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society to study T cells. Marrack obtained an associate professorship at the University of Rochester, followed by faculty positions at the National Jewish Health, Denver, Colorado and the University of Colorado Denver. She was also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.[9] Throughout her career, Marrack has published over 300 peer-reviewed journal articles. Her numerous citations and journal articles places her as the third most influential researcher in the nation and distinguishes her as top female researcher.[5]

Research interests

In 1983 while working in the labs at the National Jewish Health in Denver, Colorado, Philippa Marrack and her husband and research partner, John Kappler, discovered and isolated the T cell receptor, together with Ellis Reinherz and James Allison. Resulting from this research, in 1987 Marrack discovered how the immune system is capable of molecular discrimination, as the human body can get rid of T cells that target the body's own tissues, destroying them in the thymus before they have a chance to cause problems, yet the body retains the cells that combat invaders. She learned that destructive cells that fail to be destroyed can cause autoimmune diseases like AIDS, diabetes, Multiple sclerosis, and lupus. This foundational work on immunological tolerance by Marrack and Kappler led to their later discovery in 1990 of superantigens: powerful toxins that stimulate a large amounts of T-cell proliferation and can cause devastating immune response and violent symptoms such as those seen in toxic shock syndrome or food poisoning.[5][10] Marrack's current research projects focus on why certain autoimmune diseases, like lupus or Multiple sclerosis, are more prevalent in women than in men. Marrack and Kappler have recently discovered a population of B cells that may account for some of this observation.[11] Her pioneering and revolutionary work isolating the T-cell receptor and describing how T cells protect against infection, drive autoimmune and allergic diseases, and play a possible role in rejection of cancers, has contributed greatly to the current understanding of vaccines, HIV, and immune disorders in the medical field.

Professional activities

Marrack has served on editorial boards and many scientific journals including Cell, Science, and the Journal of Immunology. She has also served on various boards and panels for the American Cancer Society, the National Institutes of Health, and the Burroughs Welcome Fund.[12] From 1986 to 2017, Marrack was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. From 1995 to 2002, Marrack served on the American Association of Immunologists Council and served as president of the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) from 2000 to 2001.[9] She has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States since 1989 and a Fellow of the Royal Society in Great Britain since 1997. She is also the current Ida and Cecil Green professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Research at National Jewish Health and a distinguished professor at the University of Colorado Denver. She joined the faculties of National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in 1979.

Honors and awards


  1. ^ Williams, Brien (29 August 2012). "Oral History Project". The American Association of Immunologists. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  2. ^ Yount, Lisa (2007). "Marrack, Philippa". A to Z of Women in Science and Math (Rev. ed.). New York: Infobase Pub. p. 191. ISBN 978-1-4381-0795-0.
  3. ^ a b Marquis Who's Who, ed. (2016). "Marrack, Philippa Charlotte". Marquis Who's Who (33rd ed.). Marquis Who's Who LLC.
  4. ^ a b c d e Emrich, John (2013). "The American Association of Immunologists Oral History Project Transcript" (PDF). The American Association of Immunologists. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b c "Philippa Marrack, PhD". Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Marrack, Philippa (1945–)". Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  7. ^ a b "About NJ - Physician, Researcher or Clinician Detail - Philippa Marrack FRS, PhD - National Jewish Medical and Research Center". Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  8. ^ Powell, Kendall (1 December 2004). "Profile: Philippa Marrack". Nature Medicine. 10 (12): 1270. doi:10.1038/nm1204-1270. ISSN 1546-170X. PMID 15580239. S2CID 43191184.
  9. ^ a b c d "Philippa Marrack, Ph.D." American Association of Immunologists. Retrieved 29 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Philippa Marrack". Greengard Prize. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  11. ^ "Marrack, Philippa". National Women’s Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  12. ^ "Philippa Marrack to Be Honored for Lifetime Achievement in Immunology : Denver Nursing Star". Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  13. ^ Ward, Lauren (31 March 1992). "Immunologist Marrack to give Dyer Lecture". The NIH Record. No. XLIV(7). National Institutes of Health. pp. 1–2. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  14. ^ a b Allstetter, William (4 May 2003). "Philippa Marrack to Be Honored for Lifetime Achievement in Immunology". National Jewish Medical & Research Center. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  15. ^ "Philippa Marrack". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  16. ^ "M. D. Anderson Cancer Center - Current Research/Awards". Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  17. ^ "William B. Coley Award". Cancer Research Institute. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
  18. ^ "Announcement". Immunology. 78:3: 511. March 1993 – via EBSCO Academic Search Complete.
  19. ^ "Horwitz Prize Awardees". Columbia University Irving Medical Center. 20 June 2018. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  20. ^ "Bonnie Bassler, PhD". Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  21. ^ "The Rabbi Shai Shaknai Award - מרכז לאוטנברג לאימונולוגיה וחקר הסרטן | Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer research". מרכז לאוטנברג לאימונולוגיה וחקר הסרטן | Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer research. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Dr Philippa Marrack The Academy of Medical Sciences". Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Philippa Marack To Be Honored for Lifetime Achievement in Immunology" Archived 7 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine, 4 May 2003.
  24. ^ "AAI Award History". Archived from the original on 15 November 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
  25. ^ sean (27 April 2015). "Past Honorees". Bonfils-Stanton Foundation. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  26. ^ a b Marrack, Philippa. "Philippa Marrack, PhD, FRS". National Jewish Health. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  27. ^ Immunologist "Philippa Marrack to Receive Rockefeller University's Pearl Meister Greengard Prize", 2 November 2005.
  28. ^ "Deutscher Immunologiepreis" (in German). Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  29. ^ "Member Directory - Philippa Marrack, Ph.D." National Academy of Medicine.
  30. ^ Colorado Women's Hall of Fame, Philippa Marrack, PhD
  31. ^ Siegel-Itzkovich, Judy (29 January 2015). "Wolf Prizes in the sciences and arts presented to nine North Americans". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  32. ^ Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana. "10 women honored at Hall of Fame induction". Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  33. ^ National Women's Hall of Fame. "Marrack, Philippa – National Women's Hall of Fame". Retrieved 13 February 2017.
  34. ^ "Marrack, Philippa". National Women’s Hall of Fame. Retrieved 30 January 2020.
  35. ^ "Six leading scientists to receive prestigious Novartis Prizes for Immunology at 16th International Congress of Immunology". Novartis. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  36. ^ "Researchers of Nobel class: Citation Laureates 2019". Web of Science Group. Retrieved 24 November 2019.

Further reading

External links