Baruj Benacerraf was born in Caracas in 1920 and emigrated to the United States in 1940.
Benacerraf is a pathologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1980 for his research into the human immune system.
Benecerraf and his family lived in Venzuela and France while he was growing up, before moving to the U.S. in 1940 so he could study at Columbia University in New York City. After receiving his bachelor's degree, he applied to medical school, but faced difficulties because he was both Hispanic and Jewish. The only school which accepted him was the University of Virginia.
While in medical school, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and following graduation he was assigned to a military hospital in France. Meanwhile, in 1943 he was naturalized as a U.S. citizen.