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Ernst H. Beutner, renowned dermatology researcher

Aug. 27, 1923 – June 10, 2013

Ernst Herman Beutner, renowned for his research in dermatology, died Monday in his Amherst home after a short illness. He was 89.

A professor emeritus of microbiology and dermatology at the University at Buffalo, he founded and directed an independent dermatological research laboratory that bears his name.

Born in Berlin, Germany, the son of a chemist and a pharmacologist, he came to the U.S. with his parents as an infant. Drafted into the Army the year after he began attending Pennsylvania State University, he was assigned as an interpreter for German prisoners of war.

Discharged in 1945, he returned to Penn State and developed an interest in bacteriology. After completing his doctorate in 1951 at the University of Pennsylvania, he took positions with Sias Labs in Brookline, Mass., and the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. He came to UB in 1956.

Working under Ernest Witebsky in the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology, he specialized in the use of immunofluorescence (IF) for studies of autoimmune diseases in animals and humans.

Dr. Beutner and his colleagues led eight international conferences on the standardization of IF, which resulted in mandated proficiency tests for antinuclear antibodies across the U.S.

In 1965, he and his associates discovered the role of autoimmunity in two skin diseases with high mortality rates, pemphigus and pemphigold.

This led to a 25-year collaboration with two Polish researchers, Tadeusz Chorzelski and Stephanie Jablonska, that resulted in 125 publications on autoimmune diseases of the skin and other connective tissues, including studies on Celiac disease, psoriasis and dermatitis herpetiformis, a chronic blistering skin condition.

He founded Beutner Labs in 1992 and served as director until retiring last year. The lab specializes in studies of blistering diseases, lupus and psoriasiform eruptions, and provides the only nationwide proficiency tests for pemphigus and pemphigold.

He received numerous honors, awards and fellowships from schools and medical societies around the world.

Survivors include his wife, Gloria P.; a son, Eric W.; and two daughters, Karen Banach and Jean.

Services will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday in Dietrich Funeral Home, 2480 Kensington Ave., Amherst.

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