Richard D. Cummings

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Richard D. Cummings, Ph.D. is the S. Daniel Abraham Professor of Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA, a position he assumed in September 1, 2015. He is also the Director of the Harvard Medical School Center for Glycoscience, officially approved in June, 2016. Within the Department of Surgery he is also the Vice-Chair of Basic and Translational Research, Chair of the Research Council, and Associate Director for Drug Discovery and Translational Research. As of 2018 Cummings is also the Scientific Director of the Feihi Nutrition Laboratory at BIDMC and Director of the Cancer Glycomics Program within the Cancer Research Institute at BIDMC. Before moving to BIDMC/HMS, Cummings was the William Patterson Timmie Professor and Chair of the Department of Biochemistry at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia from 2006-2015. At Emory, Cummings was a founder in 2007 of the Emory Glycomics Center. Prior to moving to Emory, Cummings was the Ed Miller Endowed Chair in Molecular Biology, the George Lynn Cross Professor in Biochemistry, and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, College of Medicine, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma from 1992-2006. He was the founder in 1999 of the Oklahoma Center for Medical Glycobiology. Prior to his position in Oklahoma, Cummings was Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Georgia in Athens from 1983-1992 and Associate Director of the Complex Carbohydrate Research Center.

He is a co-founder, among many other well-known scientists, of the fields of glycomics and glycobiology. His research, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1984, has focused on the biochemical and molecular regulation of cellular metabolism and function. His work emphasizes the roles of glycoconjugates in cell adhesion and cell signaling. In his biochemical studies he is exploring the fundamental pathways of glycoconjugate biosynthesis and alterations in biosynthesis in human and animal diseases. He is also exploring in the roles of proteins and lectins that recognize glycans, as well as anti-glycan antibodies, in biological pathways and disease, including inflammation, autoimmunity, infectious diseases, and cancer. Cummings has over 290 peer-reviewed publications in the field, along with over 70 review articles, and dozens of book chapters. Cummings is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014), and a past President of the Society for Glycobiology (2001). In 2008 he received the Karl Meyer Award from the Society for Glycobiology in recognition of his many contributions to the field. He has held numerous leadership positions in academia and has been a leader in industry and government involvement in scientific reviews and decision making.

Cummings is a co-Editor of the 1st Edition (1999) and 2nd Edition (2009) of Essentials of Glycobiology, and now 3rd Edition (2017) of Essentials of Glycobiology, the first textbook in the field of glycobiology. Cummings was also the artwork editor for the textbook and prepared most of the illustrations. This textbook in 2003 became one of the pioneering textbooks to be distributed electronically by the National Library of Medicine. Cummings is also a co-Editor of Handbook of Glycomics, which provides a comprehensive overview of the emerging field of glycomics, and a co-Editor of Galectins: Methods and Protocols. In addition, Cummings currently has 30 US Patents in the field of biotechnology and glycobiology. Cummings is the Chair of the Consortium of Functional Glycomics, a worldwide organization that is a comprehensive resource for functional glycomics. Cummings is also the Director of the National Center for Functional Glycomics, which relocated in 2015 from Emory to BIDMC/HMS, and develops and offers a variety of glycan microarray technologies for researchers in the field.

Cummings graduated from Isabella High School in Maplesville, AL and received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Montevallo. He received his Ph.D. in Biology (biochemistry) from The Johns Hopkins University, where he trained with Dr. Stephen A. Roth, and was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Washington University in St. Louis, where he trained with Dr. Stuart A. Kornfeld. Cummings also holds an honorary Master of Science degree from Harvard University.

Cummings was a co-founder in 2002, along with Rodger P. McEver, MD, and Richard Alvarez, MBA, of Selexys Pharmaceuticals Corporation, where he initially served as President and Chief Scientific Officer. Selexys was based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The emphasis of the company was in developing treatments for inflammatory disorders. In November 21, 2016 it was announced that Selexys was purchased by Novartis.[1] The purchase occurred following receipt of results of the SUSTAIN study, a Phase II trial evaluating the use of SelG1, an anti-P-selectin antibody, in the reduction of vaso-occlusive pain crises in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). Terms of the deal could total up to $665 million in upfront, acquisition and milestone payments. Tetherex Pharmaceuticals Corporation [1], formed in 2014 and also based in Oklahoma City, is a spin-off of Selexys. Tetherex develops novel first-in-class therapeutics targeting cell adhesion proteins in inflammatory, thrombotic and oncologic diseases, and its lead drug is a function-blocking anti-PSGL-1 antibody called SelK2, initially under development for the treatment of Crohn's disease and venous thromboembolism. Cummings was also a co-founder in 1988 of ELA Technologies, Inc. in Athens, Georgia, that specialized in developing uses of bioluminescent proteins in high-sensitivity detection assays.