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Niels Kaj Jerne
Niels Kaj Jerne 1950 crop.jpg
Born (1911-12-23)December 23, 1911
Died October 7, 1994(1994-10-07) (aged 82)
Castillon-du-Gard, France
Nationality Danish
Known for monoclonal antibodies

Niels Kaj Jerne FRS (December 23, 1911 – October 7, 1994) was a Danish immunologist.

Jerne won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Georges J. F. Köhler and César Milstein in 1957. They won it "[f]or theories concerning the specificity in development and control of the immune system and the discovery of the principle for production of monoclonal antibodies".

According to Jerne's biographer Thomas Söderqvist, Jerne did not play the role of a bench scientist, he could not pipette accurately, and he did not enjoy experimental work. Jerne's Nobel Prize was awarded for theories, rather than discoveries. He developed the "natural selection theory of immunology," which was proposed by Paul Ehrlich 50 years earlier, although he was missing the clonal selection element proposed by David Talmage and later by Frank Macfarlane Burnet. James Watson had told Jerne that his theory "stinks."

He was married three times and had two sons, Ivar Jerne (born 1936) and Donald Jerne (born 1941), with Tjek Jerne. He had a third son, Andreas Wettstein, with Gertrud Wettstein, in 1971.

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