NOBEL LECTURE

April 1st
TBA
TBA

Discovering TNF, TLRs and Other Molecules of Medical Interest

A pioneer in the study of innate immunity, Prof. Bruce Beutler isolated several key cytokines early in his career, most notably TNF-α. He went on to discover the elusive sensing mechanism by which host cells recognize microbial invaders. Moreover, in work spanning nearly four decades, he identified proteins central to many other biological processes, notably neurobehavioral function, metabolism, and development. His discoveries have led to therapies for crippling and life-shortening diseases that affect millions of people. His work in the innate immunity field was rewarded with a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2011.

He was the first to isolate TNF-α and to demonstrate its function and he is also the inventor of recombinant molecules which expressly neutralize TNF, nowadays used extensively in the form of Etanercept, a drug effective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and other diseases. He also demonstrated that one of the mammalian Toll-like receptors, TLR4, acts as the membrane-spanning component of the mammalian LPS (lipopolysaccharide) receptor complex. The TLRs are now widely known to function in the perception of microbes, each detecting signature molecules that herald infection. These receptors also mediate severe illness, including shock and systemic inflammation as it occurs in the course of an infection. They are central to the pathogenesis of sterile inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus.

ABOUT OUR SPEAKER

Bruce Beutler

Prof. Bruce Beutler is best known for his pioneering molecular and genetic studies of inflammation and innate immunity. He is the recipient of numerous awards, most notably the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2011 for discoveries concerning the activation of innate immunity.

He is currently a Regental Professor and Director of the Center for Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He also holds the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research, in honor of Laverne and Raymond Willie, Sr. He is a member of multiple American and foreign academies of science, including the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO), the German Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), and the Academy of Athens.