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.
Dec. 7, 2022
Qiong 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.
Richard 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.