Berns, Kenneth: Distinguished Professor

The molecular genetics of the AAV life cycle

The molecular genetics of the AAV life cycle and the use of the virus as a potential  vector in  human gene therapy are the areas of emphasis in the Berns laboratory.  Current projects include  AAV as a vector for treatment of retinal neovascularization and as a vector to inhibit vascular  intimal proliferation in renal transplants. AAV is of interest as a gene therapy vector because of its ability to persist for long periods of time in the host without causing any apparent  disease.  Wild type virus persists by integration at a specific site on human chromosome 19.   The viral Rep protein is required for site specific integration, but current AAV vectors do   not have the gene required for Rep expression.  Ongoing work in the laboratory is designed to   test whether Rep+ AAV vectors will function as well as those without the gene in terms of   the level and duration of gene expression; also the question of pathogenicity of such vectors   will be addressed.

 

Education:

Harvard University (Biochemical Sciences) , A.B. with General Honors (Biology), Johns Hopkins University, Ph.D., Biology (Biochemistry), Johns Hopkins University Thesis: Isolation and Purification of High Molecular Weight DNA from Haemophilus influenzae (awarded distinction), M.D., Johns Hopkins University, Intern, Pediatrics, Harriet Lane Service, Johns Hopkins Hospital.

 Awards, Professional Service:

Member, National Academy of Sciences,  Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Distinguished Service Award, National Board of Medical Examiners, Institute of Medicine/NAS, Director of Genetics Institute and Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, American Society for Microbiology, President 1996-97 , Association of American Medical Colleges, Chair 1994-95.