Rockefeller creates Cohn-Steinman Professorship to honor discoverers of dendritic cells

The Rockefeller University is creating the Cohn-Steinman Professorship to honor two of its most accomplished scientists, Nobel Prize winner Ralph Steinman and his mentor Zanvil A. Cohn, both of whom made seminal scientific discoveries that transformed the field of immunology. Steinman passed away on September 30, 2011, three days before it was announced that he was a recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Medicine. Dr. Steinman’s wife Claudia Steinman and their children have donated $500,000 toward Rockefeller’s goal of raising $3 million to create the new chair. The $500,000 donation from the Steinman family came directly from his Nobel Prize winnings.

Zanvil Cohn (left) and Ralph Steinman in 1983.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of the university, decided to establish the chair to create an enduring memorial to Steinman and his mentor and collaborator, Cohn. It was Steinman’s wish during his lifetime to honor Cohn.

“We believe there could be no more fitting tribute to the work of these two brilliant scientists than the establishment of a named chair in their honor. The Cohn-Steinman Professorship would honor Zan and Ralph in perpetuity and celebrate the extraordinary roles they played both on the Rockefeller campus and in the global scientific community,” says Tessier-Lavigne.

To create the Cohn-Steinman chair, Rockefeller has received gifts totaling $1.5 million toward the $3 million goal. Claudia Steinman and her children have donated the entire proceeds of Dr. Steinman’s Nobel Prize to charity, $500,000 of which they are giving to the Cohn-Steinman Professorship, and $250,000 to The Steinman Family Foundation to support the careers of young scientists and science education. Their generosity inspired a Rockefeller University alumnus and former faculty member to anonymously contribute $1 million to the chair in honor of Steinman and Cohn, with whom he worked while at Rockefeller.

“As a family we were very moved by the creation of this chair in Ralph and Zan’s honor,” says Claudia Steinman. “The Rockefeller University was Ralph’s scientific home for 40 years. His commitment to mentoring and cooperation were hallmarks of his career as they were for his dear friend Zan Cohn. Ralph often said ‘none of us is as smart as all of us.’ We know that the establishment of The Cohn-Steinman Professorship will carry on that spirit of collaboration.”

The news of the Cohn-Steinman Professorship was reported today in the Wall Street Journal.

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