Michael Zasloff

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Michael Zasloff
Michael Zasloff.JPG
Michael A. Zasloff
Residence Georgetown, Washington, D.C. and Bala Cynwyd, PA
Nationality American
Citizenship United States
Alma mater Columbia College; New York University School of Medicine
Known for Magainin Pharmaceuticals, magainin, squalamine, illumai
Awards 1994 Kilby International Award,[1] 2012 ScD (Hon) Georgetown University[2]
Scientific career
Fields Pediatrics, Medicine, Surgery, Bioinformatics
Institutions Georgetown University

Michael A. Zasloff is an American doctor, immunologist, medical researcher, professor, and geneticist. He is currently Scientific Director, MedStar-Georgetown Transplant Institute, Georgetown University Hospital.[3]

He is well known for his work on innate immunity and antimicrobial peptides including the discovery of Magainin from the frog Xenopus laevis[4][5] and the identification of the essential amino acid isoleucine as an inducer of anti-microbial peptides.[6]

In 1993 Zasloff reported the discovery of the aminosterol squalamine from the dogfish shark, Squalus acanthias. He founded the pharmaceutical company Magainin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He was Chief of the Genetics Branch of the NIH's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in the 1980s, and later, Upham Professor of Pediatrics and Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Human Genetics of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Between 2002-2004 he served as Dean of Research and Translational Science for Georgetown University School of Medicine. Currently he is at the Georgetown Transplant Institute of the Department of Surgery.

Education[edit]

Zasloff received a B.A. from Columbia College in Chemistry and holds an M.D., Ph.D. from the New York University School of Medicine. He completed his Ph.D. under Severo Ochoa.[7]

Post graduate[edit]

Zasloff completed residency training in Pediatrics at the Boston Children's Hospital. In 1975 he joined the National Institutes of Health as a Research Associate in the National Institutes of Arthritis, Metabolic and Digestive Diseases completing his post doctoral studies with Gary Felsenfeld, and concurrently completed a Fellowship in Human Genetics at Johns Hopkins with Victor McKusick.

Professional career[edit]

From 1982 until 1988, Zasloff was Chief, Human Genetics Branch, at the National Institute of Health in both Child Health and Human Development. In the early 1980s, Zasloff discovered the existence of a specific mechanism involved in the transport of tRNA from the nucleus of a cell to its cytoplasm. In 1987 he reported the discovery of magainin, an antimicrobial peptide in the skin of the African Clawed Frog. His laboratory subsequently discovered the beta-defensin family in the mammalian epithelium. Zasloff discovered the underlying basis of pulmonary infections in cystic fibrosis to be a malfunctioning of these newly described antimicrobial peptides in the airway of the individuals with cystic fibrosis.

From the late 1980s, along with Fred Kaplan (University of Pennsylvania), Zasloff began research on the cause and treatment of Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP).

In 1988 Zasloff founded Magainin Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a publicly traded biotechnology company. In July 1992, Zasloff joined Magainin on a full-time basis, and served as Executive Vice President and President of the Magainin Research Institute, a basic research division of the Company. From July 1996 through November 2000, Zasloff was Vice Chairman of the Board of Magainin Pharmaceuticals.[7]

In 1991, while at Penn, Zasloff and his group discovered squalamine in tissues of the dogfish shark, the first of a novel class of steroids, called aminosterols. Subsequently, his group discovered squalamine to be a potent antiangiogenic compound with activity against solid tumors. He guided its development into clinical trials. Squalamine is currently in Phase III clinical trials being evaluated by Ohr Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for the topical treatment of wet age related macular degeneration (AMD).[8]

In 2015, Zasloff, along with Denise Barbut and Bill Kinney, founded Enterin, Inc. to develop drugs for the treatment of Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases that involve both the central and enteric nervous systems.

Corporate Boards[edit]

Zasloff has served on several corporate boards, including Amphastar Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Lead Independent Director, 2005–present), Biosynexus, Inc. (2005 - 2010), Enterin, Inc ( Chairman, 2015–present), Sarentis, Inc. (2016–present), Novo Biosciences (2013–present), and Formula XO, Inc. (Chairman, 2013–present). He also has served on the scientific advisory boards of Novozymes (2005-2008) and Dipexium Pharmaceuticals (2007–present), which was formerly known as Macrochem.

Practical Science[edit]

In the mid-2000s, Zasloff began studying surfactants safe for the dermal biome, including lauryl methyl glucamide (LMG). Research in the field of innate immunity had clearly demonstrated that antimicrobial peptides and lipids were key components of the dermal biome, providing both defense against harmful microbes and retention of moisture. Zasloff recognized that commonly used skin cleansers and shampoos removed these important components of the biome because of the nature of the detergents that provided cleansing action. With partners, he developed a skin cleanser and protectant using LMG, a product called Détente.

In 2012, Zasloff began work on a new set of products that featured LMG as a surfactant to cleanse and protect the scalp and hair. In 2013, he successfully developed a method for stabilizing LMG at high concentrations and/or low temperatures, and was awarded a patent for use in personal care products in 2015. Zasloff then co-founded Formula XO, Inc., and used the formula as the basis for the illumai Biome Care System. He now serves as Formula XO’s Chief Scientific Officer and actively assists the company in developing the illumai brand.

International recognition[edit]

Zasloff is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Kilby Award for Creativity and Innovation, and the Berson Award in Basic Science from New York University. He is the author of over 180 original peer-reviewed publications, and 47 US and international patents.

Zasloff and his team have been responsible for the discovery, clinical and commercial development of several compounds, including pexiganan, a synthetic antimicrobial peptide developed for the treatment of infection in diabetics, the first entirely new class of antibiotic to be developed as a therapeutic in 30 years.[9] Pexiganan is currently being developed by Dipexium Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Zasloff held an endowed chair as the Charles E.H. Upham Professor, Departments of Pediatrics and Genetics, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and Chief, Division of Human Genetics and Molecular Biology, at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Zasloff remains affiliated with Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as an Adjunct Professor in the Departments of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Molecular Orthopedics.[10] In January 2002, Zasloff assumed the position of Dean of Research and Translational Science at Georgetown University.[11]

Time Inc. included Zasloff's latest work with squalamine in, "100 New Scientific Discoveries; Fascinating, Momentous and Mind-expanding Stories." [12] In 2012, Zasloff delivered the Commencement Address at Georgetown University School of Medicine and received an honorary Sc.D.[13][14]

Selected publications[edit]

References[edit]