The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) has elected Nobel Laureate Dr. Bruce A. Beutler of UT Southwestern Medical Center, a nationally recognized leader in immunology, to membership.
With his election, the medical center now has 16 faculty members currently serving in the esteemed organization.
“It’s an honor to be associated with so many distinguished men and women, some of them historical icons. I am certainly pleased and grateful to be recognized in this way,” Dr. Beutler said.
Dr. Beutler is the director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense at UT Southwestern and a Regental Professor. He is known for his work in unlocking the secret of how the body detects infection and launches an inflammatory response.
“Dr. Beutler’s pioneering research conducted at UT Southwestern starting in the 1980s led to fundamental advances in our understanding of the genetic basis of our innate immune response, the body's first line of defense against infection,” said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern.
Dr. Podolsky continued, “As director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, he is assembling an interdisciplinary team to broaden those discoveries, and we look forward to new insights.”
Dr. Beutler was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and to the Institute of Medicine in 2008.
His research on mice converged with French scientist Dr. Jules Hoffmann’s studies in flies, and they shared half of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on innate immunity.
Dr. Beutler’s current endeavors involve an attempt to identify every gene involved in how an organism recognizes and responds to potentially infectious agents like bacteria or viruses.
At UT Southwestern, Dr. Beutler runs one of the largest mouse mutagenesis programs in the world. He and his group have tracked down more than 240 mutations that cause abnormalities in mice.
Many of these mutations have important implications in infectious diseases or autoimmune conditions in which the body turns on itself, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Beutler’s team also has identified many thousands of other genetic mutations that form the nucleus of a mutation archive that eventually will encompass all mouse genes.
Since its founding in 1780 by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other scholar-patriots, the Academy has elected leading "thinkers and doers" from each generation, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin in the 18th century, Daniel Webster and Ralph Waldo Emerson in the 19th century, and Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill in the 20th century.
The current membership includes more than 250 Nobel Laureates and more than 60 Pulitzer Prize winners.
Members of the 2013 AAAS class include director and actor Robert De Niro; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Annie Dillard; actor Sally Field; jazz musician Herbie Hancock; singer-songwriters Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen; and Lasker Prize winner Dr. Jeffrey M. Friedman.