Dr. Beutler was Chairman of the Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine at the Scripps Research Institute. He was born in Berlin, Germany in 1928 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1935. He obtained his undergraduate, medical school, and residency training at the University of Chicago, and was an instructor and then assistant professor in the department of medicine.
It was in the course of the scientific investigations of anemia produced by antimalarial drugs while in the U.S. Army in the early 1950’s that Beutler identified a genetic defect, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency. These studies marked the beginning of a life-long interest in genetics and in anemias. Returning from his Army service, Beutler joined the faculty of the Department of Medicine at the University of Chicago where he studied iron metabolism and red blood cell metabolism. In 1959, he became Chairman of the Department of Medicine of the City of Hope Medical Center, and was on the faculty of the University of Southern California, and in 1979 moved to the Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation to assume his current position. He also holds an appointment as Clinical Professor in the deparment of medicine at the University of California San Diego.
In 1960 he correctly deduced that only one of the two X-chromosomes of female mammals was active. He made fundamental contributions to the understanding of Tay-Sachs disease, galactosemia, and sickle cell and other hemolytic anemias. His group cloned the gene responsible for Gaucher disease and developed treatments for this disease. He played a major role in pioneering new therapies for leukemia, bone marrow transplantation in acute leukemia and 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine in lymphoid malignancies. In the past few years he was engaged in unraveling the penetrance of hereditary hemochromatosis. Computer programming became one of his avocations, and he personally wrote the well known software program Reference Manager.
His accomplishments have been recognized by his election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1975), National Academy of Sciences (1976), the presidency of the American Society of Hematology (1978), the presidency of the Western Association of Physicians (1990) and the Institute of Medicine (2004). He is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians. He has been honored by a number awards, including the Gairdner award (1975), the James Blundell Prize of the British Blood Transfusion Society (1985), the Spinoza Chair of the University of Amsterdam(1991), the Mayo Soley Award of the Western Society for Clinical Investigation (1992), a Doctor Philosophiae honoris Causa, from the U. of Tel Aviv (1993), the General Research Centers Annual Award for Excellence in Clinical Research (1993), the City of Medicine Award (1994), the Philip Levine Award (2000), and the Professional Achievement Citation of the University of Chicago (2003), and the E. Donnall Thomas Medal of the American Society of Hematology (2003). Ernest Beutler died on October 5, 2008.