Peter Palese

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Primary Section: 44, Microbial Biology
Secondary Section: 43, Immunology and Inflammation
Membership Type: Member (elected 2000)

Biosketch

Peter Palese is a Professor of Microbiology and the Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Member of the National Academy of Medicine, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. 

Research Interests

His research is in the area of RNA-containing viruses with a special emphasis on influenza viruses. Specifically, he established the first genetic maps for influenza A, B, and C viruses, identified the function of several viral genes, and defined the mechanism of neuraminidase inhibitors (which are now FDA-approved antivirals).  He was also a pioneer in the field of reverse genetics for negative strand RNA viruses, which allows the introduction of site-specific mutations into the genomes of these viruses.  This technique is crucial for the study of the structure/function relationships of viral genes, for investigation of viral pathogenicity and for development and manufacture of novel vaccines.  An improvement of this technique has been effectively used by him and his colleagues to reconstruct and study the pathogenicity of the highly virulent, but extinct, 1918 pandemic influenza virus.  Work in collaboration with Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Sastre has revealed that most negative strand RNA viruses possess proteins with interferon antagonist activity, enabling them to counteract the antiviral response of the infected host.   Drs. Palese and Garcia-Sastre also developed oncolytic viruses for treatment of cancers in humans.  In recent years most of the efforts by Dr. Palese and by his collaborators at Mount Sinai, Dr. Adolfo Garcia-Sastre and Dr. Florian Krammer, have been directed at developing a Universal Influenza Virus Vaccine. Since the beginning of 2020, there has been a shift in directions as work on COVID-19 has become central to the efforts by Dr. Palese.

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