Bruce Beutler shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Jules Hoffmann and Ralph Steinman for “discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity”.
Dr Beutler discovered proteins which detect micro-organisms infecting the body. These trigger an innate immune response, allowing the body to provide immediate defence against infection.
Dr Beutler now continues his work as a Regental Professor and Director of the Center for Genetics of Host Defense at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, USA.
Along with his team, he has developed techniques for detection of mutations that affect an organism’s characteristics. Using these techniques, they have detected hundreds of genes that contribute to immune defence.
Dr Beutler’s team has also studied many other biological functions, such as maintaining constant glucose levels, regulation of body mass and repair following injury. Beutler’s ultimate goal is to identify most of the proteins essential for these biological processes, many of which are abnormal in disease.
Photo taken by Brian Coats for UT Southwestern Medical Center.