Born 8th October, 1927 (Bahia Blanca, Argentina)
Together with Georges Kohler, Milstein developed the first unlimited supply of monoclonal antibodies, which today underpin many diagnostics and therapeutics. Milstein is the subject of an exclusive exhibition kindly supported by the Medical Research Council. Please go to this page to view the exhibition.
Family Milstein was the middle son of three boys born to a Jewish immigrant father who came to Argentina from the Ukraine and an Argentinian mother who was the daughter of immigrants from the Ukraine. His father had started life as a farm labourer and then had become a travelling salesman, while his mother had begun her career teaching and rapidly rose to become a headmistress. During his childhood Milstein became fascinated in science when he read of the adventures in The Microbe Hunters by de Kruif and heard stories from his older cousin trying to develop a vaccine for snake venom. In 1953 Milstein married fellow chemistry graduate Celia Prilleltensky.
Education In his early years Milstein attended schools in his hometown, Bahia Blanca, including Colegio Nacional. His last year of schooling was spent in Buenos Aires to prepare for university. Milstein completed a chemistry degree in 1952 and a biochemistry doctorate in 1958 at the University of Buenos Aires. Funding his studies by working part-time and undertaking research with only the most basic of equipment, Milstein came close to abandoning his doctorate when to his horror on making an enzyme preparation he broke three of the five expensive flasks in his department. He completed this doctorate in 1957. In 1958 Milstein was awarded a British Council fellowship to study at the University of Cambridge, which resulted in a second doctorate in biochemistry.
Career In 1961 Milstein took up a prearranged appointment as head of a new Department of Molecular Biology at the National Institute of Microbiology in Argentina, a pioneering institue in Latin America with an infrastructure and scientific base that matched other research institutes in the United States and France. With his work in Argentina thrown into disarray by the political turmoil of a military coup in 1962 Milstein returned to Cambridge in 1963 to work in the newly established Laboratory of Molecular Biology. This move marked a shift in research from enzymes to what would become a lifelong study of the formation and diversity of antibodies. In 1983 Milstein was appointed Head of the Division of Proteins and Nucleic Acids at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology. From 1988 to 1995 Milstein was Deputy Director of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology. In 1987 Milstein was declared Honoary Citizen of the City of Bahia Blanca and received an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Nacional del Sur.
Achievements Milstein was important in advancing the knowledge of antibodies, notably their structure, expression and diversity. In 1984 he was awarded a Nobel Prize for his development, with Georges Kohler, of monoclonal antibodies in 1975. Developed originally as a tool for basic research, monoclonal antibodies opened up new frontiers in diagnostics and therapeutics for over 50 major diseases. Milstein was at the forefront of showing the applications of monoclonal antibodies for automated cell fractionation, studying cell surfaces, tumours, neuropharmacology, typing blood and tissue for blood transfusion and organ transplants, and laying the groundwork for many current blockbuster drugs.
Milstein is the subject of an exclusive exhibition kindly supported by the Medical Research Council. Please go to this page to view the exhibition.
Cesar Milstein: timeline of key events
|October 8, 1927||Cesar Milstein was born in Bahia Blanca, Argentina||Milstein||Bahia Blanca, Argentina|
|1945 - 1952||Cesar Milstein studies for a chemistry degree||Milstein||University of Buenos Aires|
|1954 - 1958||Cesar Milstein pursues his first doctorate in biochemistry||Milstein, Stoppani||University of Buenos Aires|
|1957||The Associacion Quimica Argentina awards Milstein a prize for the best doctoral thesis in chemistry that year||Milstein||University of Buenos Aires|
|1957 - 1959||Cesar Milstein publishes papers from his doctorate with his supervisor Andres Stoppani||Milstein||University of Buenos Aires|
|1958 - 1961||Cesar Milstein takes up a British Council Scholarship at Cambridge University||Milstein, Dixon, Webb||Sir William Dunn School of Pathology|
|1961||Cesar Milstein is awarded a second doctorate in biochemistry at Cambridge University||Milstein||Sir William Dunn School of Pathology|
|1961||Cesar Milstein takes up a position at the Instituto Malbran, Buenos Aires||Milstein||Instituto Malbran|
|1962||An Argentinian military coup throws Cesar Milstein's academic work into disarray||Milstein||Instituto Malbran|
|1963||Cesar Milstein returns to Cambridge and begins researching the structure and diversity of antibodies||Milstein, Sanger||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|1964||Cesar Milstein publishes his first paper on antibodies||Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|July 1966||Cesar Milstein and Sydney Brenner publish theory attributing antibody diversity to somatic mutation||Brenner, Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|July 1970||Cesar Milstein launches experiments to determine whether somatic mutation underlies antibody diversity||Cotton, Milstein, Secher||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|1973||Cesar Milstein meets Georges Kohler at the Basel Institute of Immunology||Kohler, Milstein||Basel Institute of Immunology|
|July 1973||Cesar Milstein and Dick Cotton report the successful fusion of two different myeloma cell lines, one from a mouse and the other from a rat||Cotton, Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|June 1974||Georges Kohler joins Cesar Milstein's research team to investigate somatic mutation and antibody diversity||Kohler, Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|January 1975||Unlimited long-surviving monoclonal antibodies created||Milstein, Kohler||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|1975 - 1979||First monoclonal antibody created to target a neurotransmitter peptide||Milstein, Cuello||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, MRC Neurochemical Pharmacology Unit, Oxford University|
|August 1975||First step taken to patent Kohler and Milstein's monoclonal antibodies||Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|August 7, 1975||Cesar Milstein and Georges Kohler publish a paper outlining a technique for producing limitless monoclonal antibodies||Kohler, Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|September 1976||Cesar Milstein supplies myeloma cells to Hilary Koprowski at the Wistar Institute for producing monoclonal antibodies||Koprowski, Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Wistar Institute|
|October 1976||British government declines to patent monoclonal antibodies||Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|1977||Monoclonal antibodies developed for automatic fluorescence-activated cell sorter||Milstein, Herzenberg, Oi||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Stanford University Medical School, University of Toronto|
|February 1977||Partnership begun for first commercial distribution of cells for producing monoclonal antibodies||Milstein, Murray|
|1977||Monoclonals produced against histocompatibility antigens||Milstein, Galfre, Howard||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Brabraham Institute|
|June 1977||First US patent application filed for monoclonal antibodies||Croce, Koprowski, Milstein||Wistar Institute|
|1977||Monoclonal antibodies made to unknown cell surface antigens||Milstein, Galfre, Williams||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology|
|1978||First monoclonal antibodies generated to human T-cells||Milstein, McMichael||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Oxford University|
|1978||First monoclonal antibody generated for blood typing||Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Oxford University|
|February 1978||First commercialisation of monoclonal antibodies as laboratory reagents||Milstein, Murray||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Sera-Lab|
|October 1979||First US patent for monoclonal antibodies granted||Koprowski, Milstein||Wistar Institute|
|January 1980||First monoclonal antibody created to purify a human therapeutic protein.||Burke, Milstein, Secher||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Warwick University|
|1980||Cesar Milstein proposed the use of recombinant DNA to improve monoclonal antibodies||Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology|
|1980||British government commissioned report publically criticises non-patenting of technique for producing monoclonal antibodies||Milstein|
|1981||First monoclonal antibodies generated for use in radioimmunoassays||Cuello, Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Oxford University|
|1982||Monoclonal antibodies generated for routine use in ABO blood typing||Lennox, Milstein, Sacks, Voak||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Addenbrookes Hospital|
|1983||First bispecific monoclonal antibody produced||Cuello, Milstein||Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Oxford University|
|March 2002||Cesar Milstein died||Milstein||Cambridge, England|
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