Frederic D. Bushman, PhD's (University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine) early pioneering work in understanding how HIV reproduces by inserting its genetic material into the DNA of a host cell led to key advances in the ability to move pieces of DNA and whole genes between cells. In recognition of his scientific achievements and leadership in the field, Dr. Bushman is the recipient of a Pioneer Award from Human Gene Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. Human Gene Therapy is commemorating its 25th anniversary by bestowing this honor on the leading 12 Pioneers in the field of cell and gene therapy selected by a blue ribbon panel and publishing a Pioneer Perspective by each of the award recipients. The Perspective by Dr. Bushman is available on the Human Gene Therapy website.
In "Engineering the Human Genome: Reflections on the Beginning," Dr. Bushman recalls his research as a graduate student and postdoctoral fellow studying the regulatory mechanisms that control gene expression and identifying DNA binding proteins that viruses—such as the HIV retrovirus—use to integrate into a host genome at targeted sites. Currently, retroviral delivery vectors are widely used for gene transfer in human gene therapy. Dr. Bushman's research accomplishments have contributed to the development of new gene delivery vectors and to more effective and efficient methods of targeting them to integration sites, and have advanced the field of gene therapy.
"Rick's background in HIV biology was very useful in his current studies of retroviral and lentiviral vector integration," says James M. Wilson, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Human Gene Therapy, and Director of the Gene Therapy Program, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia. "He brought to the field an incredibly sophisticated approach to assess integration sites, which has informed safety profiles."