Sir Marc Feldmann is a prominent immunologist at the University of Oxford whose superior reputation precedes him worldwide. In 1983, he published a novel hypothesis for the mechanism of induction of autoimmune diseases, highlighting the role of cytokines in this process. He later transformed this insight into the discovery of a powerful treatment, antiTNF – drugs that block the cytokine TNF, thereby improving the quality of life of millions of patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases worldwide.
He was born in Lvov in 1944, to a Jewish family who emigrated from France to Australia when Marc was eight. He earned a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree from the University of Melbourne and a PhD in immunology at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, also in Melbourne.
In 1984, he began a fruitful collaboration with Sir Ravinder N. Maini at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology – then in London but now at Oxford University – to study the mechanism underlying rheumatoid arthritis, a common and crippling autoimmune inflammatory disease. They demonstrated that diseased joints have far more pro-inflammatory cytokines than normal, and used novel techniques to identify one of these, Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNFα) as the key rate limiting factor. Sir Marc and Sir Ravinder were pioneers in introducing TNFα inhibitors in clinical trials, paving the way for them to become the standard therapy for rheumatoid arthritis and a host of other autoimmune diseases. He and Sir Ravinder later discovered that the treatment could be significantly improved by adding another drug (e.g. methotrexate).
Sir Marc’s pioneering work with cytokines in clinical surroundings also led to the successful treatment of additional autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis – benefitting the lives of the millions around the world who suffer from these debilitating disorders.
He is the recipient of many accolades and awards, including the Crafoord Prize, the European Patent Office’s European Inventor of the Year in the Lifetime Achievement Category, the Albert Lasker Clinical Medical research award, the Canada Gairdner International Award, and the Tang Prize. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Society of London, and the Australian Academy of Science. He is also a Foreign Member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. He was knighted in 2010, and received the Australian equivalent, Companion of the Order of Australia, in 2014.
Sir Marc has had long-term extensive collaborations with peers on the Weizmann Institute campus, initially with Prof. Edna Mozes (then part of the group of Prof. Michael Sela), and later with Prof. David and Dr. Daniela Novick . He has become an avid supporter of groundbreaking immunological research on campus. In 2014, he and his wife Tania established the Rina Gudinski Career Development Chair, whose current incumbent is Dr. Rony Dahan of the Department of Immunology. Four years later, they established the Sir Marc and Lady Tania Feldmann Professorial Chair in Immunology, held by Prof. Eran Elinav, also of the Department of Immunology. For the past 10 years Sir Marc has been deeply involved in promoting Israel-UK scientific collaboration as a member of the UK-Israel Science Council.