Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov (Elie Metchnikoff) (1845-1916)
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Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov studied phagocytes, immune function, and starfish embryos in Europe during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Mechnikov adopted the French form of his name, Élie Metchnikoff, in the last twenty-five years of his life. In 1908, he won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Paul Ehrlich for their contributions to immunology. Mechnikov discovered phagocytes, immune cells that protect organisms by ingesting foreign particles or microorganisms, by conducting experiments on starfish larvae. He then developed a theory of the cellular process involving phagocytes, known as phagocytosis, to explain how inflammation is a part of the self defense system found in both vertebrates and invertebrates. His experimental work was part of the tradition of evolutionary embryology, which emerged in the decades following the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859, and was influenced by Ernst Haeckel's concept of the biogenetic law.