John Bienenstock Medicine

Immunologist; international authority on mucosal immunity.

The Story

Bienenstock was educated in England. He studied at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and joined McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario in 1968 as a physician and later a university professor.

Bienenstock pioneered the concept of the common mucosal system. The common mucosal system is the means by which the body's different mucosal surfaces, such as the gut, the respiratory tract and the reproduction system, share information to fight infection. Working with Robert Clancy in 1972, Bienenstock's team demonstrated that communication between the different mucosal surfaces was facilitated by lymphocytes from structures called Peyer's patches located in the wall of the small intestine. Vaccines taken by mouth directly reach Peyer's patch cells and induce immunity throughout the entire mucosal system.

Bienenstock is one of McMaster's most cited researchers, having written several books and published more than 350 peer reviewed articles. He served as Dean of Health Sciences and Vice-president of the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster, and Chair of the Council of Ontario Faculties of Medicine. In 1998 he was appointed to the scientific advisory board of International Medical Innovations Inc., which is now known as PreMD Inc., a Canadian company working with McMaster University, and specializing in predictive medicine.

Sources: Canadian Who's Who 1993; IMI news release May 25/98; McMaster news release May 20/97; Image: Dr. Bienenstock's website

The Person

October 6, 1936
Budapest, Hungary
Other Interests
A well-known painter; past chairman of an art school
University Professor, Professor Emeritus, Pathology & Molecular Medicine
McMaster University
  • MD, Harvard University
  • Order of the Red Cross, 1990
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 1992
  • Finkelstein Prize (Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of Canada), 1996
Last Updated
June 22, 2015

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