Paul Robbins

Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics and Orthopaedic
Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Gene Therapy: Current and Future Prospects

Thursday, December 2, 2010
Stern Center, Great Room, 7:00 p.m.

The presentation will provide an overview of gene therapy and how it is being used to treat different types of diseases, including non-lethal diseases and disorders. The clinical development of a gene therapy for rheumatoid arthritis will be used as an example of how gene therapy can be used to treat other non-lethal diseases.

About the Lecture
Gene therapy is the prevention or treatment of disease by intracellular delivery of nucleic acid. Although gene therapy was first developed to treat rare genetic diseases, it is now being applied to the treatment of acquired diseases, such as cancer and arthritis, and disorders such as wound and bone healing. The recent successes in a number of gene therapy trials treating a variety of human disorders, such as X-linked and ADA-SCID, a genetic form of retinal degeneration, some forms of cancer and even a severe neurodegenerative disease demonstrate that gene transfer in humans can provide therapeutic benefit in some patients. The successes of these technologies to treat human disease is leading to even greater use of gene and oligonucleotide therapy to treat non-life threatening diseases and disorders. As an example of how gene therapy can be used for treating non-lethal diseases, the clinical development of an approach to treat rheumatoid arthritis by intra-articular gene transfer will be highlighted. The future of gene therapy, including gene transfer to stem cells and ethical considerations for its use, also will be discussed.

Biography (provided by the speaker)
Paul D. Robbins is a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and orthopaedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He recently was the director of the Virus Vector Core Facility, director of Basic Research for the Molecular Medicine Institute and co-director of the Paul Wellstone Cooperative Muscular Research Center. He received his B.A. from Haverford College, his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley and worked as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Richard Mulligan at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was an associate editor for Cancer Research and Gene Therapy and currently is on the editorial boards for Gene Therapy, Cancer Gene Therapy, Human Gene Therapy, The Journal of Gene Medicine and Arthritis Research & Therapy. Dr. Robbins has co-authored over 280 peer-reviewed manuscripts and 160 book chapters and reviews and has edited three books on gene therapy. He was a member of the PathB Study Section and chair of the Italian Telethon Scientific Review Committee. He also has served as a member of the Scientific Review Board of National Gene Vector Laboratory and was a member of the board of directors of the American Society of Gene Therapy. He currently serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards for the Italian Telethon and five biotechnology companies.