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Former Ludwig Lausanne Director Hugh Robson MacDonald dies at 76

Hugh Robson MacDonald
Hugh Robson MacDonald in 1984

Hugh Robson MacDonald, a former director of the Lausanne Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at Epalinges, died in March at the age of 76 due to complications from a fall. A native of Canada, Rob obtained his PhD in biophysics from the University of Toronto, after which he took a fellowship at the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research in Lausanne from 1972-75, studying T cell differentiation. After a stint at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, Rob returned to Switzerland in 1977 to join Ludwig Lausanne, becoming its director from 2007 to 2012. Rob made seminal contributions to the field of T cell development—in part through his pioneering use of flow cytometry—immune tolerance, T cell selection and the establishment of immune memory. His group also discovered and extensively characterized the invariant natural killer T cell. Writing in Immunity, his former Ludwig colleagues Anne Wilson, Isabel Ferrero, Daniel Speiser, Werner Held and Pedro Romero recalled how Rob was loved “for his bright intellect, phenomenal memory, great sense of humor, eclectic spirit, insatiable curiosity, and his trademark humility.” Rob authored some 430 scientific articles that, as of 2018, had collected at least 34,000 citations. His life’s work was recognized with the prestigious Swiss Cloëta Prize in 1989.

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