Michael Zasloff

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Michael Zasloff
Michael Zasloff.JPG
Michael A. Zasloff
BornJuly 2, 1946
Alma materColumbia University; New York University School of Medicine
Known forMagainin Pharmaceuticals
Scientific career
FieldsMedicine, Biotechnology

Michael A. Zasloff (born July 2, 1946) is an American physician, medical researcher, and entrepreneur. Zasloff is primarily known for his work on antimicrobial peptides.

Early life[edit]

Michael Alan Zasloff was born to a Jewish family, the son a dentist and an artist. Growing up in Manhattan's West Side, he studies at the Bronx High School of Science.[1]


Zasloff did his undergraduate work at Columbia University[2] and earned his M.D. and Ph.D. from the New York University School of Medicine.[3]

He did his residency training in pediatrics at the Boston Children's Hospital and a research fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.[4] In 1975 he joined the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a postdoc.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Zasloff stayed at the NIH after he finished his postdoc, and in 1981 he was made the Chief of the Human Genetics Branch of the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development.[3] In 1986 he discovered magainins, a family of antimicrobial peptides in the skin of the African clawed frog.[4][5][6][2]

Magainin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. was founded in the late 1980s to commercialize the peptides. Zasloff left the NIH at about the same and went to University of Pennsylvania, in part because the NIH policies made it difficult for him to participate in the company.[4] Magainin eventually went public and its name was changed to Genaera. The company attempted to develop squalamine, trodusquemine, and pexiganan (a version of a magainin), but the company closed in 2009 without having brought any products to market.[7]

At Penn, working with Fred Kaplan, Zasloff continued research he had begun at the NIH on the cause and treatment of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva.[4]

Zasloff left Penn in 1992 and joined Magainin full time.[8] He was with the company until its lead product, pexiganan, was rejected by the FDA in 1999 for lack of efficacy compared with the standard of care for diabetic foot ulcers, and he went to Georgetown University's medical school, where he was appointed Dean for Research and Translational Science.[9] In 2011 Zasloff found that squalamine had antiviral activity.[10]

In 2013 Zasloff co-founded a company called Formula XO that sold haircare products.[11][12]

He later co-founded a company called Enterin, that intended to develop a derivative of squalamine called kenterin as a treatment for Parkinson's disease; the company received its first round of venture funding in 2017.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Zasloff is married to Dr. Barbara Zasloff, a clinical psychologist (whom he met when they were undergraduates at Columbia University), and they have three daughters.[1]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Schonwetter, B. S.; Stolzenberg, E. D.; Zasloff, M. A. (1995). "Epithelial antibiotics induced at sites of inflammation". Science. 267 (5204): 1645–1648. Bibcode:1995Sci...267.1645S. doi:10.1126/science.7886453. PMID 7886453.
  • Zasloff, M. (2002). "Antimicrobial peptides of multicellular organisms". Nature. 415 (6870): 389–395. Bibcode:2002Natur.415..389Z. doi:10.1038/415389a. PMID 11807545.


  1. ^ a b Okie, Susan (February 16, 1988). "A Man and His Frogs". The Washington Post.
  2. ^ a b Brower, Montgomery (17 August 1987). "The Case of the Frog That Healed Leads Dr. Michael Zasloff to a Medical Leap Ahead". People Magazine. New York, New York.
  3. ^ a b "Press release: MacroChem Corporation Announces Michael Zasloff, M.D., Ph.D. Joins Company's Scientific Advisory Board". MacroChem via BioSpace. October 17, 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e Maeder, Thomas (February 1998). "A Few Hundred People Turned To Bone". The Atlantic.
  5. ^ Altman, Lawrence K. (4 August 1987). "Staying Ahead of Microbes: New Progress". The New York Times.
  6. ^ Conlon, JM; Mechkarska, M; King, JD (1 May 2012). "Host-defense peptides in skin secretions of African clawed frogs (Xenopodinae, Pipidae)". General and Comparative Endocrinology. 176 (3): 513–8. doi:10.1016/j.ygcen.2011.10.010. PMID 22036891.
  7. ^ George, John (April 29, 2009). "Biotech Genaera shutting down: Never brought drug to market". Philadelphia Business Journal.
  8. ^ "Zasloff bio". Georgetown University. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  9. ^ Moore, A (February 2003). "The big and small of drug discovery. Biotech versus pharma: advantages and drawbacks in drug development". EMBO Reports. 4 (2): 114–7. doi:10.1038/sj.embor.embor748. PMC 1315844. PMID 12612596.
  10. ^ "Press release: GUMC Discovery Chosen for Time's Top 100 Scientific Findings". Georgetown. May 2, 2013.
  11. ^ "Formula XO Company Profile: Valuation & Investors". PitchBook. Retrieved 16 January 2018.
  12. ^ Corsano, Erica (October 16, 2014). "Russo's Illumai creates beauty without beastly chemicals". Boston Herald. p. 28.
  13. ^ Taylor, Phil (July 17, 2017). "Backers put $12.7M behind Enterin's Parkinson's disease approach". FierceBiotech.