Peter Palese is a United States microbiologist and professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and an expert in the field of RNA viruses. Palese constructed “the first genetic maps for influenza A, B, and C viruses, identified the function of various viral genes, … defined the mechanism of neuraminidase inhibitors (which are now FDA-approved antivirals)” and “pioneered the field of negative strand RNA virus genetics.” Palese and his colleagues have used this technique to reconstruct and study the pathogenicity of the extinct but deadly 1918 pandemic influenza virus. Reverse genetics also aid in the development of new influenza vaccines. Palese is the author of multiple book chapters and more than 400 scientific publications. He is a member of the editorial board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). He has received multiple patents on viral and antiviral vaccines.
He is 77 years old.
In high school, Palese had a classical education, in Greek and Latin, and very little modern science. He developed his interest in science later, at the University of Vienna, where he received his doctorate. in chemistry in 1969 and his master’s in pharmacy in 1970. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology from 1970 to 1971, when he joined the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai as an assistant professor. In 1976 he was visiting associate professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine. In 1987 he was appointed chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. When cells are infected by viruses, they respond with antiviral interferons. Palese and Adolfo García-Sastre demonstrated that most negative strand RNA viruses counteract this antiviral response with protein antagonists to interferons. His work on “fundamental questions regarding the genetic makeup and biology of viruses” and virus-host interactions “uses molecular biology techniques to understand how viruses replicate and how they interact with cells to cause disease in their hosts.” , with an emphasis on “the study of RNA viruses, including influenza, paramyxo and corona (SARS) viruses.” Recent achievements include the development of a highly successful new animal model (the guinea pig) to study the transmission of influenza viruses.
Honors And Awards
Palese is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (2000), the Institute of Medicine (IOM) (2012), the Austrian Academy of Sciences (2002) and the German Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (2006). He has served the presidencies of the Harvey Society from 2003–2004 and the American Society of Virology from 2005–2006. In 2014, he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received an Honorary Doctorate from both Baylor College of Medicine (2014) and McMaster University (2016). Robert Koch Prize (2006). Charles C. Shepard Science Award (2006 and 2008). Wilhelm Exner Medal (2007). European Virology Award (EVA) (2010). Sanofi – Institut Pasteur Award (2012). Beijerinck Virology Prize from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2015). Maurice Hilleman/Merck Award from American Society for Microbiology (2016).