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San Diego Geneticist Bruce Beutler Wins Nobel Prize

A geneticist at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla won the Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine today, along with two other scientists.

Bruce Beutler, 53, learned that he had won the prize for his groundbreaking work in immunology via a cell phone message early this morning, after the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden made the announcement at 2:30 a.m. Pacific time.

"I awoke in the night, looked at my cell phone and saw that I had a message that said, 'Nobel Prize,''' Beutler told The San Diego Union-Tribune.

"So I went on the web to see if I had won, and I had. I was delighted, especially since I am sharing the prize with Jules Hoffmann and Ralph Steinman.''

Watch Monday's show for more from KPBS Reporter Marissa Cabrera.

Evening Edition airs weekdays at 5 PM and 6:30 PM on KPBS TV.

Hoffman works at the French National Center for Scientific Research, while Steinman, who died Friday of pancreatic cancer at the age of 68, worked at Rockefeller University in New York.

The Nobel committee had been unaware of Steinman's death and it was unclear whether the prize would be rescinded because Nobel statutes don't allow for posthumous awards.

Beutler wins the prize at a time when he is preparing to leave La Jolla for a major new post at the University of Texas, according to the Union- Tribune. Beutler is leaving to become the founding director of the new Center for Genetics of Host Defense at the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

"I will certainly miss Scripps, but the opportunity at UT Southwestern is enormous,'' Beutler said.

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