The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Bruce A. Beutler, MD, and Jules A. Hoffmann, PhD, “for their discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity,” and to Ralph M. Steinman, MD, “for his discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity.” Awardees are recognized for illuminating key principles for activation of the immune system. Their discoveries have paved the way for the development of prevention strategies and therapies to combat infections, cancer and inflammatory diseases.
Dr. Beutler, a former member of the AFMR and recipient of the AFMR Outstanding Investigator Award in 1994, earned his MD at the University of Chicago. He received additional medical training at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center and at Rockefeller University before joining the UT Southwestern faculty in 1986. In 2000, he joined The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA, where he served until returning to UT Southwestern in September of this year as director of the Center for the Genetics of Host Defense. During his initial tenure at UT Southwestern, while serving as a faculty member and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, Dr. Beutler and his colleagues identified tumor necrosis factor (TNF) as a key mediation of inflammation.
A native of Luxembourg, Dr. Hoffmann earned his PhD at the University of Strasbourg in France, and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Marburg, Germany. He returned to Strasbourg in 1974, where he headed a research laboratory until 2009. He has also served as director of the Institute for Molecular Cell Biology in Strasbourg and as President of the French National Academy of Sciences. In 1996, Dr. Hoffmann discovered that the product of the Toll gene was involved in sensing pathogens and Toll receptor activation was needed for successful defense against them.
Dr. Steinman, …