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Bruce A. Beutler, MD

Bruce A. Beutler, MD

Center for the Genetics of Host Defense
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Dallas, Texas

Class of 2018

A prominent authority in molecular biology and immunology, Dr. Beutler is famed for his discovery of toll-like receptors and for deciphering the biological mechanisms and signaling events that govern tumor necrosis factor-mediated inflammation and innate immune system activation. Dr. Beutler is credited with isolating and identifying tumor necrosis factor (TNF) as a key regulator of inflammation, which would later assist in his discovery of toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) as the mammalian receptor for the endotoxin, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) found in the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria.

By studying mice resistant to LPS exposure, Dr. Beutler determined that LPS resistance was due to mutations in the mammalian TLR4 gene, homologous to the Toll gene in Drosophila. This research followed upon his discovery that LPS-mediated TLR4 activation causes intracellular activation of NF-B (nuclear factor kappa light chain enhancer of activated B cells) signal transduction cascades and subsequent production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Dr. Beutler proved that production of such cytokines results in innate immune system activation. Further investigations into this signaling process have revealed that aberrant NF-B signaling and resulting deficiencies in innate immunity, correspond to the onset of autoimmune disease, cancer, impaired immune system development, infection, and septic shock.

Dr. Beutler’s contributions to defining the molecular mechanisms by which cells are able to identify bacteria and induce innate and adaptive immune responses has resulted in a better understanding of molecular and immunological defense mechanisms against infection. His research has had a far-reaching impact on the understanding of the biology of the innate immune system and has inspired countless investigations into developing novel approaches to the prevention and treatment of cancer, infections, and inflammatory diseases.

Career Highlights

2013 Elected Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
2013 Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award, American Society for Clinical Investigation
2012 Elected Member, German National Academy of Sciences
2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
2011 Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine, The Shaw Prize Foundation
2009 Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research
2009 Annual Prize for Research, The Will Rogers Institute
2008 Elected Member, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
2008 Elected Member, Institute of Medicine, Washington, D.C.
2008 Frederik B. Bang Award, Stanley Watson Foundation
2007 Balzan Prize for Innate Immunity, International Balzan Prize Foundation, Milan, Italy
2006 William B. Coley Award for Distinguished Research in Basic and Tumor Immunology, Cancer Research Institute
2006 Grand Prix Jean-Pierre Lecocq, French Academy of Sciences, Paris, France
2004 Robert Koch Award, Robert Koch Foundation, Berlin, Germany
1994 Outstanding Investigator Award, American Federation for Clinical Research