Chemistry to Host Nobel-Prize Winner Bruce Beutler May 18

The Chemistry Department will host Dr. Bruce Beutler, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, at 4 p.m.on Friday, May 18 in Academic West 204. Beutler will present "Discovering genes essential for immune function" as part of the department's celebrations of WWU's Scholars Week; see Beutler's abstract and bio below for more information.

Photo of Bruce Beutler 2011 Nobel Prize Winner in MedicineThe lecture is free and open to the public.

Prior to Beutler's presentation, the department's Honors Oral Presentations will begin at 3 p.m., with the following presentations:

  • Leah Huey will be presenting her work titled: "Development of a Monodisperse Oligomeric Hemoglobin-based Oxygen Carrier for Acute Blood Replacement Therapy."
  • Ellie James will be presenting her work titled: "Controlling the Nanoscale Organization of Thiophene-Based Conductive Polymers with Self-Assembling Peptides."

There will be a brief intermission followed by the keynote address from Dr. Beutler, who is the Regental Professor and director of the Center for Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

As chemists may screen to find drugs that alter biological activities, geneticists may screen for mutations that alter biological activities. By damaging genes at random with a chemical mutagen and then tracking down the mutations that cause phenotype, it is possible to find every essential part of a biological “machine.” Random germline mutagenesis in mammals has produced impressive discoveries but historically was a slow process. Often years were required to find the mutational causes of interesting phenotypes. Recently we have developed a means of finding causative mutations instantaneously. When a phenotype is detected, its cause is known. Over the last four years we have severely damaged or destroyed approximately 36% of all protein-encoding genes in the mouse. About 600 genes have been ascribed function in either innate or adaptive immunity. Approximately half of these genes were not previously known to be important in immunity. Some of the new genes, and their importance in immunity, will be discussed.

Beutler received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at San Diego in 1976, and his MD degree from the University of Chicago in 1981. After two years of residency at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, he became a postdoctoral fellow and then an Assistant Professor at the Rockefeller University (1983-1986). Beutler returned to Dallas in 2011, where he is currently a Regental Professor and Director of the Center for Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

In addition to his Nobel Prize (2011) he also holds the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research in honor of Laverne and Raymond Willie, Sr. Before he received the Nobel Prize, his work was recognized by the Shaw Prize (2011), the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research (2009), election to the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine (2008), the Frederik B. Bang Award (2008), the Balzan Prize (2007), the Gran Prix Charles-Leopold-Mayer (2006), the William B. Coley Award (2005), the Robert-Koch-Prize (2004), and other honors.

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Monday, May 14, 2018 - 4:48pm