For contributions to the creation of a new medical discipline, immunopathology.
From these studies, Dr. Dixon was able to establish a relationship between wayward immunologic reactions and the development of tissue and organ pathology, which led to the concept of immune complex disease.
These discoveries enabled his students and colleagues subsequently to establish that in man, misguided immunologic responses, resulting in antigen-antibody complexes, can be the cause of kidney, cardiovascular and other diseases.
Dr. Dixon has also shown that chronic viral infections regularly lead to the formation of immune complexes and tissue injury, thus providing a possible causation for many of the presently unexplained immunologic diseases of man.
For Dr. Dixon’s outstanding contributions to the creation of a new medical discipline, immunopathology—which constitutes a breakthrough in medicine that has illuminated the underlying mechanisms of an entire class of human disease—this 1975 Albert Lasker Medical Research Award is given.
Concentrating on various disease states in man, Dr. Kunkel discovered that there is a wide variety of antibodies which react against the body’s own tissues. In addition, he made the surprising finding that antibodies can develop which, by their interaction with the patient’s own DNA, produce harmful complexes that can cause kidney disease.
His discovery that there is a variety of abnormal immune relationships in patients with rheumatoid arthritis has produced new leads towards the solution of rheumatic diseases.