Bruce A. Beutler, M.D.

Bruce A. Beutler

 Brief Bio

Bruce Alan Beutler was born in Chicago on December 29, 1957, into a scientific family. His father had fled Nazi Germany as a child with his physician parents before becoming a physician himself; his mother, born in the United States to Ukrainian immigrants, was a technical writer; and two of his three siblings also became physicians. As early as age seven, Beutler recalls, he had chosen his career path: "My interest in biology grew from a deep fascination with nature, animals in particular. The ability of atoms and molecules to assemble themselves into living creatures, endowed with consciousness, volition, and mobility, and seeming much more than the sum of their parts, inspired awe.

When Beutler was 14 years old, he began working in his father's laboratory at City of Hope Medical Center in California, where he "learned to purify proteins and characterize erythrocyte enzymes." After receiving his B.S. in biology from the University of California at San Diego in 1976 at the age of 18, Beutler attended medical school at the University of Chicago, earning his M.D. in 1981. He then completed an internship in medicine and one year of residency in the Department of Neurology at UT Southwestern. His first love, however, remained biological research. In 1983, he moved to the Rockefeller University, where he was a postdoctoral fellow (1983–85) and an associate professor (1985–86). In 1986, he returned to UT Southwestern, remaining there as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator until 2000, when he joined the Scripps Research Institute as chair of the Department of Genetics. In 2011, he accepted an appointment as founding director of the Center for Genetics and Host Defense at UT Southwestern.

 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Jules A. Hoffmann were awarded half of the award “for for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunit.” Ralph Steinman (AAI '75) was awarded the other half for his work in adaptive immunity

 AAI Service History

Joined: 2006

Other Service
Instructor, AAI Advanced Course in Immunology: 2004–2005

 Nobel Prize in Science

Bruce A. Beutler, Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UT Southwestern), was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. The prize was shared by three immunologists. Beutler and Jules A. Hoffmann were awarded half for their work in innate immunity, and Ralph Steinman (AAI '75) was awarded the other half for his work in adaptive immunity.

Beutler and Hoffmann were honored for their complementary work on the role of Toll and Toll-like receptors in activating an immune response.1 After Hoffmann identified the function of the Toll protein in combating infection in fruit flies, Beutler discovered that a Toll-like receptor, TLR 4, served as a lipopolysaccharide sensor in mice. Together, Beutler's and Hoffmann's studies demonstrated that the Toll family of receptors played a central role in recognizing pathogenic microorganisms and activating innate immunity.

Beutler's research has been pivotal to understanding and treating inflammatory diseases. By isolating mouse tumor necrosis factor (TNF), he was able to characterize its inflammatory properties. He then developed recombinant inhibitors for TNF, which are now widely used to treat inflammatory diseases.

"Their achievements are nothing short of astounding," declared James J. Barba, president of the Albany Medical Center, in a news conference announcing that Beutler, Steinman, and Charles A. Dinarello (AAI '82) were to receive the 2009 Albany Medical Center Prize. "Collectively, the work of these scientists has led to a dramatically better understanding of the human immune system, in health and in disease. That knowledge has already directly resulted in new therapies for people with conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Crohn's disease and cancer. And, the discoveries they have made about how the body senses and responds to infection remain the basis of active research that holds the promise of new and improved vaccines and innovative ways to harness the power of the immune system to better fight viruses and bacterial illness."

 Awards and Honors

 Institutional/Biographical Links

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