Jules Hoffmann
The appearance of a website last week questioning the contribution of French immunologist Jules Hoffmann to the research that won him a Nobel prize casts another spotlight on the thorny issue of how scientific credit should be attributed.Professor Hoffmann, an emeritus distinguished class research director with the French National Research Agency (CNRS) in Strasbourg, shared half this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with US immunologist Bruce Beutler “for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity”.But, as reported in Times Higher Education last week, Bruno Lemaitre, a professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, has claimed that he was largely responsible for the Nobel-winning project while he was a postdoctoral researcher in Professor Hoffmann’s lab in the early 1990s.According to the website set up by Professor Lemaitre, Professor Hoffmann was “far from the realities of experimental bench work” and had contributed little to the project, which examined fruit flies’ immunity to fungal infections.

Professor Hoffmann’s contribution, it says, was limited to discussing results and helping to write later drafts of the resulting Cell paper, published in 1996.

So how, 15 years later, did the Nobel prize come to be awarded to Professor Hoffmann?

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