Beutler was born into a Jewish family in Chicago and recieved his M.D. from the University of Chicago in 1981. After graduation he worked as a scientist at Rockefeller University in New York, at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, where he discovered the LPS receptor, and the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA. In 2010, he rejoined the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas as professor in its Center for the Genetics of Host Defense.
In October 2011, the Nobel Committee for Physiology or Medicine announced that Beutler and Luxembourg-native Dr. Jules Hoffman had received half of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for their "discovery of the dendritic cell and its role in adaptive immunity". The other half went to Dr. Marvin Steinman, a fellow Jewish laureate, from Rockefeller University in New York. The team's research, in layman's terms, was centered on finding a vaccine to protect against cancer and other such malignant tumors in humans.
The Nobel Prize press release summarized the team's work:
The discoveries of the three Nobel Laureates have revealed how the innate and adaptive phases of the immune response are activated and thereby provided novel insights into disease mechanisms. Their work has opened up new avenues for the development of prevention and therapy against infections, cancer, and inflammatory diseases.
Dr. Beutler has also received numerous other awards and accolades in addition to his Nobel Prize. Some notable honors include: the Will Rogers Institute Annual Prize for Research(2009), the Albany Medical Center Prize (2009, shared with Charles Dinarello and Ralph Steinman), the Balzan Prize for Innate Immunity (2007, shared with Jules Hoffmann), the William B. Coley Award of the Cancer Research Institute, USA (2006, shared with Shizuo Akira), and the Robert Koch Prize of the Robert Koch Foundation, Germany (2004, shared with Jules Hoffmann and Shizuo Akira).
Beutler has three sons: Daniel, Elliot and Jonathan.