American Society of Hematology

Ernest Beutler (1928 - 2008)


Ernest Beutler, MD, was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1928. With the advent of Hitler, he and his family moved to the United States in 1935 and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At age 15, he went to college at The University of Chicago. The intellectual character there fitted Dr. Beutler’s keen mind, and he remained at The University of Chicago for medical school and house staff training. He was attracted to hematology by the force of personalities of hematologists in Chicago, particularly Leon Jacobson. When he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army, Dr. Beutler was assigned to work with the Malaria Research Project, where he investigated the abnormality of the red cells that resulted in hemolytic anemia when primaquin was ingested. He noted that these cells had more Heinz bodies than normal when treated with certain chemicals, including iodacetamide. Dr. Beutler deduced and then proved that glutathione was more easily oxidized and, from this, that the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G-6-PD) was diminished, opening an entire field of endeavor in hematology and genetics. The defect was shown to be X-linked, and, from the great heterogeneity of expression in obligate heterozygotes, he independently deduced that they must be variable chimeras due to the suppression of one or the other X chromosome in individual cells. This insight led to the demonstration of clonality in some tumors and in paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) before more refined molecular genetic tests were available. Read more

Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology

In 2008, Dr. Beutler was the inaugural winner of the Society's highest honor, the Wallace H. Coulter Award for Lifetime Achievement in Hematology. View the short video below of Dr. Beutler's acceptance speech for the award.

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