International Honors Continue for 2011 Nobel Prize Winner

French Ambassador François Delattre presenting the French Legion of Honor, that nation’s highest distinction, to Nobel Laureate Bruce Beutler, M.D.
French Ambassador François Delattre presenting the French Legion of Honor, that nation’s highest distinction, to Nobel Laureate Bruce Beutler, M.D.

Ambassador of France to the United States François Delattre recently presented the French Legion of Honor, that nation’s highest distinction, to Nobel Laureate Bruce Beutler, M.D., in a ceremony at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

The ambassador decorated Dr. Beutler, Director of the UT Southwestern Center for the Genetics of Host Defense, at the officer level, the same level awarded in September to former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.

In presenting the award, Ambassador Delattre noted Dr. Beutler’s many scientific accomplishments and the numerous links between Dr. Beutler and France, including co-authoring papers with Jules Hoffmann, Ph.D. of the University of Strasbourg, with whom Dr. Beutler shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

The ambassador also mentioned Dr. Beutler’s many research alliances with scientists at other French institutions and Dr. Beutler’s mentoring of French graduate students and postdoctoral associates in his laboratory in California prior to his return to UT Southwestern last year.

Guests at the ceremony included four French students participating in a formal medical and research exchange program between UT Southwestern and the Université de Paris Descartes in Paris, France.

Earlier this year, Dr. Beutler was elected to the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina. Founded in 1652, it is the oldest continuously operating medical and science academy in the world. Johann Deisenhofer, Ph.D., who received the 1988 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, is also a member.

Dr. Beutler completed his internship and residency in neurology in the UT Southwestern Medical School. He served on the Internal Medicine faculty and was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator from 1986 to 2000. During that time he conducted the Nobel Prize-winning research that identified the mammalian receptors for innate immunity, the body’s first response to invasion by bacteria and other pathogens.

Dr. Beutler is UT Southwestern’s fifth Nobel Prize winner. The medical center’s Nobel history began when Drs. Michael Brown and Joseph Goldstein received the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of the basic mechanisms of cholesterol metabolism. Their findings led to the development of the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

Dr. Deisenhofer received the Nobel Prize for using X-ray crystallography to describe the 3-D structure of a protein molecule. This structure helped explain the process of photosynthesis.

In 1994 Alfred Gilman, M.D., Ph.D., received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of G proteins, research that has led to a more complete understanding of how cells receive signals and respond to external stimuli.