Tomas Hermann (Charles University, Prague)
In 1960, Sir Peter B. Medawar was jointly with Sir Frank M. Burnet awarded a Nobel Prize for the discovery of acquired immune tolerance, which was made based on a key experiment conducted in 1953. In the same year, just several months earlier, a similar result was experimentally achieved by Milan Hašek (1925–1984), a young researcher, Medawar’s later colleague and friend, creator of an internationally important school of immunogenetics. He and his team, however, worked in Communist Czechoslovakia and Hašek was then a fervent communist, adherent of Soviet Lysenkoism and so-called Michurinian biology. At first, he thus interpreted his discovery through the prism of his beliefs as an example of ‘vegetative hybridisation’ in animals. The story of Hašek’s error is a remarkable example of the role of ideology in science during the Stalinist era and on a more general level, it opens some questions regarding the function of scientific paradigm.
The following seminar will be held online with Zoom. For more information please visit: https://www.hsmt.ox.ac.uk/event/milan-hasek-and-discovery-immunological-tolerance
The History of Science, Medicine and Technology Seminar is convened by Erica Charters (Wolfson College), Rob Iliffe Linacre College), Catherine Jackson (Harris Manchester College), Rob Bailey (University of Oxford) and John Lidwell Durnin (Linacre College)