Elizabeth Simpson began her career in research alongside Nobel laureate Peter Medawar during a critical period in the late 1960s when the immunology of graft rejection first began to be understood. Her distinctive contribution was to study antigens present only in grafts from male mice, eventually making it possible to track down the genes responsible on the Y chromosome.
She has investigated how T cells, which play a major role in rejecting foreign tissue, recognise these Y chromosome antigens, helping to develop a broader understanding of immunological tolerance and graft rejection. These discoveries have been critical in making organ transplantation safer and more successful for patients.
Elizabeth’s early practice as a vet gave her a passionate interest in understanding disease, developed through her work with clinical scientists. She has been an influential member of editorial, grants and strategy committees, and was awarded an OBE in 2004.