Nobel-winning scientist Bruce Beutler to speak at Montana State

BOZEMAN – Nobel Prize-winning geneticist and immunologist Dr. Bruce Beutler will speak at Montana State University next month as part of the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology’s Hilleman Research Lecture Series.

Beutler currently serves as the director for the Center of Genetics and Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work examining how human bodies detect microorganisms and activate their innate immune systems.

The lecture, “Automated Meiotic Mapping to Discover Induced Germline Mutations that Suppress Disease,” will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, in the Procrastinator Theater in the Strand Union Building. It is free and open to the public.

“Dr. Beutler is a remarkable scientist who has a gentle and thoughtful way of connecting with a broad audience,” said Blake Wiedenheft, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, which is housed in the MSU College of Agriculture. “His research truly honors the legacy of Maurice Hilleman by understanding the mechanism of immune system activation.”

Beutler’s Nobel-winning research centered on his discovery of a type of receptor on human cells that recognizes infection and triggers an immune response. This “innate immunity” is the body’s first line of defense against infection. Dr. Beutler grew up in California and studied to become a medical doctor at the University of Chicago. At UT Southwestern, he holds the Raymond and Ellen Willie Distinguished Chair in Cancer Research. His lecture will touch upon past, current and future research inquiries.

One of MSU’s best-known alumni, Maurice Hilleman, is credited with saving millions of lives through his long career as a vaccinologist. Born near Miles City, Hilleman was encouraged to attend college at MSU and graduated at the top of his class. He continued his studies at the University of Chicago before working as a scientist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Merck Pharmaceutical, where he was responsible for creating and producing more than 40 vaccines, including those for measles, mumps, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, meningitis and pneumonia.

During his visit to MSU, Beutler will meet with undergraduate and graduate students. In particular he will visit students in the Honors College and MSU’s Hilleman Scholars Program, which supports students from Montana high schools who display exceptional leadership and academic potential.