Bruce Beutler Wins the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine

LA JOLLA, CA, October 3, 2011 – For Immediate Release – Bruce Beutler, M.D., Chair of the Department of Genetics at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, has won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

LA JOLLA, CA, October 3, 2011 – For Immediate Release – Bruce Beutler, M.D., Chair of the Department of Genetics at The Scripps Research Institute and professor and director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at UT Southwestern Medical Center, has won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Bestowed annually by Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet for achievements physiology or medicine, the prize recognizes individuals who, as stipulated in Alfred Nobel's will, "have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind." The prize carries a cash award of about a million dollars.

Beutler was awarded half of this year's prize along with Jules A. Hoffmann "for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity"; the other half goes to Ralph Steinman “for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity.”

"We are delighted by the news and extend our wholehearted congratulations to Bruce," says Scripps Research President Richard A. Lerner, M.D. "We couldn’t be more proud."

According to the prize committee, this year’s winners have “revolutionized our understanding of the immune system by discovering key principles for its activation… The discoveries of the three Nobel Laureates have revealed how the innate and adaptive phases of the immune response are activated and thereby provided novel insights into disease mechanisms. Their work has opened up new avenues for the development of prevention and therapy against infections, cancer, and inflammatory diseases.”

Beutler makes the fourth Nobel Laureate on the Scripps Research faculty, joining Gerald Edelman, M.D., Ph.D. (1972 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine), K. Barry Sharpless, Ph.D. (2001 Nobel Prize in Chemistry), and Kurt Wüthrich, Ph.D. (2002 Nobel Prize in Chemistry).

The institute’s 21-member Board of Scientific Governors also includes 12 Nobel Laureates (Günter Blobel, Sydney Brenner, Michael Brown, Edmond Fischer, Walter Gilbert, Joseph Goldstein, Paul Greengard, Har Gobind Khorana, Sir Aaron Klug, Sir Harold Kroto, Phillip A. Sharp, and Susumu Tonegawa).

Beutler, who holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, and an M.D. from the University of Chicago, has spearheaded the use of a technique called "forward genetics" to study genes used by the mammalian innate immune system to clear pathogens from the body. Beutler is credited with the identification of the key receptors that inform the body when an infection is present. The same receptors also initiate inflammation and shock when an infection becomes widespread. Together with his colleagues at Scripps Research, Beutler has continued to analyze these receptors, and has pursued an ambitious search for all proteins that protect mammals against defined infections.

A member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and Association of American Physicians American Society for Clinical Investigation, Beutler is also the recipient of the 2011 Shaw Prize, 2009 Albany Medical Center Prize, 2007 Frederik B. Bang Award (International Endotoxin and Innate Immunity Society), 2007 Doctor of Medicine honoris causa from the Technical University of Munich, 2007 Balzan Prize (International Balzan Foundation, Italy and Switzerland), 2006 Gran Prix Charles-Leopold-Mayer (Académie des Sciences, France), 2006 William B. Coley Award (Cancer Research Institute, USA), 2004 Robert Koch Prize (Robert Koch Stiftung, Germany), and 1994 Outstanding Investigator Award (American Federation for Clinical Research, USA).

For more information, see:

• "From Immune System Discoveries to Message on Cell Phone" (News&Views, October 10, 2011) 
• "Colleagues React" (News&Views, October 10, 2011)
• “On Genetics: An Interview with Bruce Beutler” (News&Views, April 30, 2007)
Bruce Beutler’s faculty information page
The Beutler lab website
The Nobel Prize website

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