Dausset discovered molecules on the surface of cells that allow an individual's immune system to distinguish between its own tissues and foreign tissues, which are vigorously attacked by disease-fighting antibodies.
With his Nobel Prize money and a substantial grant from French television, he established the Centre d'Etude du Polymorphisme Humain, or CEPH, which went on to make a map of DNA markers that play a crucial role in deciphering the human genome.
Dausset, who was drafted into the French army during World War II, developed his passion for hematology while performing transfusions on the battlefields of North Africa during the Allies' Tunisian campaign. After Paris' liberation in 1944, he was put in charge of blood collection for the city's transfusion center.
For more information, read The Times obituary of Dausset that was published on June 27, 2009.
Photo: Dr. Jean Dausset after receiving an award in Spain.
Credit: AFP/Getty Images