Ernest Beutler, M.D., former chair of the Division of Medicine at City of Hope, and a prominent figure in hematologic research, died of lymphoma on Oct. 5. He was 80.
Beutler spent nearly two decades of his career at City of Hope, where he started the bone marrow transplant program in 1976, one of the first six programs in the United States.
Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1928, Beutler and his family fled Nazi oppression in 1935 and settled in Milwaukee, Wisc. He later attended the University of Chicago, earning his Ph.B. degree in 1946 and his medical degree in 1950.
|Ernest Beutler, right, with colleague Susumu Ohno circa 1963 (City of Hope Archives)|
Beutler came to City of Hope in 1959, where his scientific contributions rapidly flourished. 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-chloro-deoxyadenosine in lymphoid malignancies.
In 1976, recognizing the limits of standard chemotherapy and the potential for stem cell transplant, Beutler started a marrow transplantation program at City of Hope. He recruited Karl Blume, M.D., one of his former research fellows, to direct the program. In 1981, he and Blume published in the New England Journal of Medicine one of the first papers supporting the use of allogeneic (donorderived) marrow transplantation as a primary treatment of acute leukemia.
Over the years, Beutler trained hundreds of basic and clinical scientists, some of whom now lead programs throughout the world. He and Blume recruited Stephen J. Forman, M.D., to City of Hope as a physician in the hematology and transplant program. Forman now heads the program.
In 1979, Beutler moved to The Scripps Research Institute to assume the chairmanship of Molecular and Experimental Medicine.
In 2007, Beutler received the inaugural Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology. Throughout his career, he wrote more than 800 scientific or medical papers as well as numerous chapters, books and monographs.
Always an inventive thinker, he developed one of the first computer programs for cataloging citations, creating the code that would become Citation Manager, a forerunner of systems like PubMed and ASH’s Hematology Library.
Beutler was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences, the presidency of the American Society of Hematology, and the presidency of the Western Association of Physicians.
He is survived by his wife, Bonnie, a daughter, three sons and eight grandchildren. His son Bruce Beutler is chairman of Scripps’ Department of Genetics and an internationally recognized researcher in that field.