André Capron was born in Lens, France, in 1930. He completed a Ph.D. in Medicine in 1958 and has since been working at the College of Medicine in Lille University. In 1970, he became Professor of Immunology and Parasite Biology at Lille University and Director of the Parasite Immunology Research Center at Pasteur Institute, then Director of Pasteur Institute in Lille and former Managing Director of the National Association for Research on HIV/AIDS. After his retirement, he was named Emeritus Professor of Immunology at Lille University and Honorary Director of the Pasteur Institute. He also served as Foreign Secretary of the Académie des Sciences.
Professor Capron is an internationally recognized authority of the biology of parasites and the development of new strategies in the prevention of epidemics caused by parasitic infections such as schistosomiasis. He is recognized worldwide as one of the founding fathers of parasite immunology and remains one of its acknowledged leaders. His early contributions to the immunology of parasites started in 1962, when, using the new tools of immunochemistry and immuno-electrophoresis, he described for the first time the antigenic structure of helminths, showing the existence of shared antigens between parasites and their hosts. He also developed immunodiffusion techniques for the diagnosis of parasitic diseases, some of which are still in use. In parallel with R. T. Damian of Georgia University in the US, he developed the novel concept of “molecular mimicry” and pursued the deciphering of what he named “the molecular language of parasites.” Professor Capron’s elegant studies on the mechanisms of schistosome immunity contributed significantly to understanding the immunology of schistosomiasis and the current attempts to develop defined-antigen vaccines against that parasitic disease. These studies included the discovery of previously unknown forms of antibody-dependent, cell-mediated cytotoxicities involving the activation of eosinophils, monocytes and platelets by IgE complexes, and the role of IgM-blocking antibodies in regulating protective immunity. His work
renewed hope in developing a novel vaccine to protect people against schistosomiasis, a disease which countries and international organizations have failed to control by conventional methods.
Professor Capron authored hundreds of scientific publications and held several prestigious positions in France, Europe and at the international level. His honors include editorships of several medical journals, visiting professorships at leading international universities and consultancies at international organizations. In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine, he received many prizes and medals. He is a member and Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and an honorary member of The Royal Academy of Belgium and Doctor Honoris Causa of Brussels University and Ghent University.
After his retirement, Professor Capron was appointed Distinguished Professor at Lille University and Honorary Director of Pasteur Institute.
Professor Capron has discovered many new forms of antibody-dependent cell-mediated immune reactions which were effective in protection against infection with Schistosoma mansoni. These were of great interest to immunologists in general since they participate in many types of immune responses to pathogens and allergens.
Professor Capron who has produced several hundred publications has held numerous prestigious positions on both national and international research and advisory scientific committees, and has received many awards from scientific organizations in recognition of his achievements. He is a member of the Academie des Sciences de France and is a corresponding Member of the Academie Royale de Medecine de Belgique.