Scripps Research Institute’s Beutler shares Nobel Prize

Bruce A. Beutler, an award-winning geneticist soon to leave The Scripps Research Institute, will share the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2011 with Jules A. Hoffmann “for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity” and Ralph M. Steinman for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity,” the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden announced Monday.

Beutler is a UCSD graduate; three other TSRI faculty members have won Nobel Prizes.

Hoffmann is research director of the French National Center for Scientific Research and Steinman, who died on Friday, was director of the Center for Immunology and Immune Diseases at Rockefeller University in New York.

On the website, the press release announcing the awards said this year’s winners “have revolutionized our understanding of the immune system by discovering key principles for its activation. .... Bruce Beutler and Jules Hoffmann discovered receptor proteins that can recognize such microorganisms and activate innate immunity, the first step in the body’s immune response. Ralph Steinman discovered the dendritic cells of the immune system and their unique capacity to activate and regulate adaptive immunity, the later stage of the immune response during which microorganisms are cleared from the body.

Beutler, who has been chairman of the Department of Genetics Center, announced earlier this year he will become the founding director for the Genetics of Host Defense at the UT Southwestern Medical Center.