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Blumberg Institute Faculty News

Following is noteworthy news about people who work at the Blumberg Institute, which is the research arm of the Hepatitis B Foundation.

April 2, 2024

Blumberg Institute faculty and staff contributed to an article published April 1, 2024, in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters titled “PROTAC” modified dihydroquinolizinones (DHQs) that cause degradation of PAPD-5 and inhibition of hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus, in vitro. The authors are Timothy Block, PhD; Liudi Tang, PhD; Tianlun Zhou, PhD; Jason Clement, PhD; Liren Sun, PhD; Andrew Snedeker; Nicky Hwang, PhD; Yanming Du, PhD; and Daisy Noe of the Blumberg Institute and You Li, PhD, and Stanley Lemon, MD, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The article is posted here.

Jan. 10, 2024


Yanming Du, PhD

Yanming Du, PhD, director and professor of medicinal chemistry division at the Blumberg Institute, gave a presentation at the 2023 Hep DART meeting in Mexico early December on “Developing liver-targeted DHQ compounds with activity against hepatitis B virus.” The meeting’s purpose was to “assemble clinicians, researchers, basic scientists, nurses and physician assistants together to advance our knowledge of the ongoing drug development processes in the treatment of viral hepatitis (HBV, HCV, HDV, HAV and HEV), non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).” 


The Blumberg Institute has welcomed two new visiting scholars from the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University: Jun Lyu, PhD, MD, and Pengfei Zhu, PhD. Dr. Zhu received his doctorate in pathogenic organisms at Peking University Health Science Center in 2014. At the First Affiliated Hospital, he worked as associate senior technician. Dr. Lyu received her doctorate in internal medicine at Southern Medical University in 2014. She was deputy chief physician at the First Affiliated Hospital. 

Bruce Maryanoff, PhD and Cynthia Maryanoff, PhD

Bruce Maryanoff, PhD and Cynthia Maryanoff, PhD

The Silicon Valley Section of the American Chemical Society will present the 2023 SVACS Harry and Carol Mosher Award to Bruce Maryanoff, PhD, and Cynthia Maryanoff, PhD, both Distinguished Professors at the Blumberg Institute, during a Jan. 25 event at Stanford University. This award recognizes “individuals who make impactful scientific contributions, advance chemistry and support ACS through outreach by sharing chemistry with the general public.” Both Maryanoffs are scholars in drug discovery and management in the pharmaceutical industry. They also are founders of the Maryanoff Scholars, a program to assist undergrad chemistry students at Drexel University. More recently, they founded Absolute Palate® LLC, a coffee business in Hawaii. More here. 


Oct. 9, 2023

The Blumberg Institute was very well represented at the 2023 International HBV Meeting in Kobe, Japan, in September.

Dr. Ying-Hsiu Su and Dr. Qiong Zhao gave presentations. Dr. Chari Cohen, president of the Hepatitis B Foundation delivered a welcome and opening remarks to the nearly 500 scientists and other professionals in attendance. Also participating were Dr. Randy Hyer, president of the Blumberg Institute; Dr. Ju-Tao Guo, chief scientific officer, and Dr. Liudi Tang, assistant professor.

The International HBV Meeting, coordinated by the Hepatitis B Foundation and the Blumberg Institute, is the definitive annual meeting that covers all aspects of hepatitis B and hepatitis D. Learn more about the meeting here.

HBV meeting pic

(L-R) Dr. Su, Dr. Cohen, Dr. Hyer, Dr. Guo, Dr. Zhao and Dr. Tang.


Minghong Zhong

Minghong Zhong, PhD, has joined the Blumberg Institute as adjunct professor of translational medicine in residence. Dr. Zhong has over 22 years of experience in drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry, including six years with Johnson and Johnson, specializing in medicinal and process chemistry of nucleic acids and small molecules. He obtained his doctoral degree in chemistry from Brigham Young University and did his postdoctoral research at Yale University in biochemistry and biophysics. He is the scientific founder of GeneLancet Biosciences and the inventor of LgRNA technology and STAR editing platform for precise CRISPR gene editing. Dr. Zhong's current studies are focused on the development of LgRNA-directed precise CRISPR gene editors as cures for diseases of unmet needs.   

Aug. 22, 2023

Richard Pestell

Richard G. Pestell, MD, PhD, FACP, FRACP, MBA, President

LightSeed, a company developing therapies to prevent damage to the heart from chemotherapy given to children and adults with cancer, has received an additional year of funding from an SBIR grant. Cardiac damage from current therapies causes series morbidity and death in children and adults undergoing cancer treatments. LightSeed has identified a drug that provides substantial cardiac protection in preclinical studies and aims to conduct validation in clinical studies. More here.

June 6, 2023

Taimoor Khan, PhD, has joined the Blumberg Institute as a Post Doctoral Research Fellow. He received his doctorate in biology at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 2021. Prior to joining the Blumberg Institute Dr. Khan worked as a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California San Francisco.                                 

The Blumberg Institute was a sponsor of the 36th International Conference on Antiviral Research (ICAR), the annual meeting of the International Society for Antiviral Research (ISAR). Dr. Jinhong Chang was an invited speaker and presented on the topic “Development of an Orally Available Antiviral Drug for Yellow Fever.” Dr. Ju-Tao Guo and Dr. Yanming Du presented their hepatitis B and yellow fever research. Dr. Liudi Tang and postdoctoral researchers Dr. Fuxuan Wang, Dr. Biplav Shrestha and Dr. Hui Liu presented on research via virtual platform.


Dec. 7, 2022

ZhaoQiong Zhao, PhD, has joined the Blumberg Institute faculty as assistant professor in  Viral Pathogenesis and Biopharmaceutics Programs. She received her doctorate in Microbiology and Biochemical Pharmacology from Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, in 2014. Dr. Zhao is investigating the biosynthesis and transcription regulation of hepatitis B virus covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) minichromosomes and developing cccDNA-targeting therapeutics for the cure of chronic hepatitis B. Please read more about Dr. Zhao here.


PestellRichard Pestell, MD, PhD, distinguished professor of translational medical research at the Blumberg Institute, has been elected to the fellowship of the 2022 Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (FRCPI). This fellowship is their most prestigious category of membership. Achieving FRCPI is an internationally recognized benchmark of professional excellence. Please read more about Dr. Pestell here.


Sept. 30, 2022

Ian Henrich

Ian Henrich, PhD

Ian Henrich, PhD, has joined the Blumberg Institute’s faculty as an assistant professor in experimental therapeutics. He leads the discovery, research and development of novel modulators of the innate immune system for cancer immunotherapy here at the Institute. Dr. Henrich also is co-founder and vice president of oncology at MERLIN Biotech. Please read more about the company here. He received a doctorate in pharmacology from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2018 and was a postdoctoral researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Please read more about Dr. Henrich here.

W. Scott Willett

Scott Willett, PhD

Scott Willett, PhD, who worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 30 years, now is the Blumberg Institute’s Director of Academic Affairs and a Professor of Experimental Therapeutics and Translational Medicine. Dr. Willett holds a doctorate in pharmaceutical chemistry from the University of California at San Francisco, and a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Please read more about Dr. Willett here.

Prof. Yanming Du, PhD, is principal investigator on a new $300,000 federal grant to Harlingene Life Sciences LLC, a Blumberg Institute startup company. The phase I project aims to modify a first-in-class small molecule, dihydroquinolizinone (DHQ), which rapidly reduces HBV RNA levels. The goal is to reduce the observed neurotoxicity of DHQ while increasing the concentration and residency time in liver. The research described above was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under Award Number R41AI167172. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIH. Please read more about Dr. Du here.

Fuxuang Wang, PhD, of the Blumberg Institute, won first prize at the 2022 International Conference on Antiviral Research (ICAR) poster presentation contest for the category of post-doctoral research.

ICAR Fuxuang Wang BSBI

The poster by Dr. Wang, who works in Dr. Jinhong Chang’s lab, presented a study on how a yellow fever virus NS4B inhibitor enhances the activation of multiple RNA sensing pathways and induces premature death of infected cells.


May 6, 2022

Thomas E. Shenk, PhD, has joined the Blumberg Institute’s faculty as Distinguished Professor of Experimental Therapeutics and Translational Medicines. Dr. Shenk is Emeritus James Elkins Professor of Life Sciences in molecular biology at Princeton University. He is the founder of Evrys Bio, a 10-year, on-site member company of the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC), which is managed by the Blumberg Institute. Please read more about Evrys Bio here.

Liudi Tang, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher working at Evrys Bio with Dr. Shenk, has joined the Blumberg Institute faculty as an assistant professor of experimental therapeutics and principal Investigator at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute. Dr. Tang is a virologist with a particular focus on the hepatitis B virus (HBV). He received his PhD in 2019 from Drexel University College of Medicine. Please read more here.

Chari A. Cohen, DrPH, MPH, senior vice president of the Hepatitis B Foundation and Blumberg Institute professor, will be joining the Governing Board of the International Coalition to Eliminate HBV (ICE-HBV). Dr. Cohen also was appointed as the Inaugural Community Chair of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center’s Community Advisory Board. The Kimmel Cancer Center is a unit of Jefferson Health. Please read more about Dr. Cohen here.

Patrick Y.S. Lam, PhD, distinguished professor at the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, has funded an annual award to recognize outstanding research in medicinal chemistry. Nicky Hwang, a research technician in the laboratory of Blumberg Institute Professor Yanming Du, PhD, from 2018 until very recently was chosen for the Inaugural Lam Excellence in Medicinal Chemistry Award.

A 2018 graduate of Cornell University, Dr. Du said she was extremely productive in generating hundreds of new compounds during her tenure here, resulting in several promising lead candidates in several projects, including liver targeting HBsAg reducer and capsid disassembly promoter in HBV field, novel leads against breast cancer (with University of Texas), modified natural product for the treatment of hematologic malignancies, etc. She now is a working at Genentech.

Lam Award

(L-R) Dr. Yanming Du, Dr. Patrick Y.S. Lam, Dr. Nicky Hwang, Blumberg Institute Founder for President Emeritus Dr. Timothy M. Block.


Richard G. Pestell, MD, PhD, distinguished professor of translational medical research at the Blumberg Institute, recently was elected by his peers to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians London, which is Britain’s “mark of excellence” for physicians. He was previously elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine (UK). Dr. Pestell is founder and CEO of EcoGenome (the Blumberg Institute is an equity partner), which recently completed a successful seed-funding round for the company. Please read more about Dr. Pestell here.

About the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute   An independent, nonprofit research organization, the Blumberg Institute was launched in 2003 by the Hepatitis B Foundation to advance its research mission. Today, the Institute is one of the nation’s leading centers for translational research, particularly for hepatitis B and liver cancer. The Institute supports drug discovery, biomarker discovery and translational biotechnology around common research themes such as chronic hepatitis, liver disease and liver cancer in an environment conducive to interaction, collaboration and focus. The Blumberg Institute is located in the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, which it manages, near Doylestown, Pa. For more, go to www.blumberginstitute.org and follow us on Twitter @BlumbergInstit1.