- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Hoffmann is a professor of integrative biology at the Strasbourg University Institute for Advanced Study. He is also emeritus research director of the French National Research Center, and he served as vice president and president of the French National Academy of Sciences from 2006-2010.
He is one of two Nobel Prize winners, along with Peter Agre (2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), to agree to speak at ICE 2016, which promises to be the largest gathering of insect scientists in history, with more than 6,000 attendees expected.
Hoffmann, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for “discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity,” is an especially fitting speaker for an entomology conference. He and his colleagues used insects, namely the fruit fly Drosophila, to decipher the potent antimicrobial defenses. Over many years, these studies have led to a general understanding of recognition of infection by flies, the connections between recognition and signaling, and the subsequent control of expression of immune responsive genes, namely of those encoding antimicrobial peptides which oppose the invading microorganisms.
Hoffmann's interest in insects began at an early age and was inspired by his father, a high-school biology teacher in Luxembourg who worked on the systematics of various insect groups during his spare time.
“Most of my father's studies focused on Odonata, Ephemeroptera, Orthoptera, Dermaptera, and Hemiptera, and he was particularly interested in the development and behavior of mayflies,” Dr. Hoffmann said. “Under his guidance, and with his strong involvement, I published my first paper on the aquatic Heteroptera of Luxembourg.”
After high school in Luxembourg, Hoffmann attended the University of Strasbourg and worked on his Ph.D. with Professor Pierre Joly, a neuroendocrinologist, on the antimicrobial defenses of migratory locusts.
Hoffmann, who uses insects as model organisms to study the immune system, will talk about “Innate Immunity: from Insects to Humans” and illustrate how basic research on insects can lead to broader discoveries relevant to human health.
“We are absolutely delighted that Dr Jules Hoffmann has accepted our invitation to give a lecture in Orlando,” said Leal and Alvin Simmons, co-chairs of ICE 2016. “The appearance of Dr. Hoffmann and Dr. Peter Agre — two Nobel Prize winners — is unprecedented in the 104-year history of the International Congress of Entomology.”
The International Congress of Entomology is held once every four years in different countries around the world. The XXV International Congress of Entomology will be held in Orlando under the theme “Entomology without Borders.”
ICE 2016 is likely to be the largest gathering of entomologists in history, as it will be co-located with the annual meetings of the Entomological Society of America and the Entomological Society of Canada, along with events hosted by the Entomological Societies of China, Brazil, Australia, and others.
For more information about ICE 2016, please visit http://www.ice2016orlando.org.
(Richard Levine of ESA provided the information for this story)