Baruj Benacerraf, Noble Prize Winner

Nobel Prize winner Baruj Benacerraf was born in Caracas, Venezuela on October 29, 1920.  Benacerraf’s family were Sephardic South Americans (Latino and Jewish, a spiritual precursor of the Miami Jewbans).  His father was born in Spanish Morocco and his mother in Algeria.  Benacerraf graduated from Columbia University with a BA, and then attempted to enter medical school.  As he later wrote, “I did not realize, however, that admission to Medical School was a formidable undertaking for someone with my ethnic and foreign background in the United States of 1942.”  A father of a friend assisted him, and Benacerraf was admitted to the Medical College of Virginia. Later in 1970, Benacerraf was awarded the Chair of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, and he received the Noble Prize while at Harvard.  His Prize was for his “discoveries concerning genetically determined structures on the cell surface that regulate immunological reactions”.