Scott Dessain, MD, PhD

Photo of Scott Dessain


Phone: 484.476.6516

Office: R227

Department: Faculty

Association: Resident Faculty

Other Appointment:Director CHAT

View clinical profile on

• B.A., Biochemistry with Honors, Brown University, Providence RI, 1985
• M.D., Ph.D. (Biology), Yale University, New Haven CT, 1994
• Internal Medicine Internship and Residency, Brigham&Women’s Hospital, Boston MA, 1994-1996
• Fellowship in Medical Oncology, Dana Farber/Partners Cancer Care, Boston MA, 1996-2000
• Postdoctoral Fellowship, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge MA, 1997-2002

Current Appointments
• 2007 to present:  Associate Professor, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
• 2007 to present:  Director, Center for Human Antibody Technology (CHAT) at LIMR
• 2007 to present:  Attending Physician, Lankenau Medical Center

Research Interest(s)
• Generating native human monoclonal antibodies for use in the treatment of infectious diseases, cancer, and neurological illness

Lab Personnel
• Baron Heimbach, Biomedical Research Assistant
• Rama Devudu Puligedda, Biomedical Research Assistant
• Rashmi Sharma, Postdoctoral Fellow

Awards and Honors
2005 ASCI/AAP Travel Scholarship
1998 William Guy Forbeck Foundation Fellow
1998 Lauri Strauss Leukemia Foundation Fellow
1993 Wilbur Downs Memorial International Health Fellowship, Yale University

Board Certification
2001 Medical Oncology, American Board of Internal Medicine

NIH study sections
June 2006 - Ad hoc member, study section: Drug discovery and mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance, Center For Scientific Review, NIH

September 2008 - Ad hoc member, study section RFA-AI-08-001 U01 Immunotherapeutics, NIAID, NIH

Time spent in an academic laboratory is always intended to build skills and experiences that will be useful for career and educational advancement.  The Dessain laboratory has provided mentorship to physicians, post-doctoral fellows, pre-medical students, and pre-Physician Assistant students.  Personal and career growth are encouraged through a helpful, collaborative research environment, hands-on teaching, journal clubs, institutional seminars, career counseling, and medical clinics. 

Research Summary:

The immune system provides constant surveillance to protect against infectious diseases, toxin exposures, and cancers. Part of the immune response is in the form of antibodies that are produced by B-cells. Through highly specific interactions, antibodies can neutralize infectious entities and possibly help combat tumor cells. Many technologies exist to clone human antibodies.  Our primary interest is in “native” human antibodies, those cloned and expressed in exactly the configuration created by the intact human immune system.  Native human antibodies have the potential advantages of high affinity, minimal off-target binding, safety, and effectiveness. 

Our group has developed a highly effective method to clone native human antibodies, using only small amounts of blood that can be obtained by a normal blood draw from volunteers.  In our method, we isolate B-cells from peripheral blood and convert them to hybrid cells that can be grown in culture, each expressing a single, unique antibody.  Similar methods have been developed by others, but our method is very effective because of a unique fusion cell line that allows the high efficiency creation of stable hybrid cells, combined with a unique B-cell selection/expansion step.  Thus far, we have produced antibodies reactive with botulinum neurotoxin, which can be used to treat food poisoning or counteract an act of bio-terrorism. We are also creating antibodies that may be potent therapeutics for other infectious diseases, neurological disease and cancer.

Many laboratories have limited ability to generate their own human antibodies.  In order to collaborate in cloning human antibodies with other investigators, we have established the LIMR-Center For Human Antibody Technology.  The LIMR-CHAT currently has collaborations underway with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University, the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Salus University, Temple University, and Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.  We are actively seeking additional academic collaborations.

The human monoclonal antibody technology has been licensed to a start-up company, Immunome, Inc., which is located at the Incubator facility of the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research and is affiliated with the 611 Keystone Innovation Zone of Southeastern Pennsylvania.  Immunome, Inc. can provide antibody cloning services on a commercial basis to industrial customers and/or collaborators.

  1. Adekar SP, Klyubin I, Macy S, Rowan MJ, Solomon A, Dessain SK, O'Nuallain B. Inherent anti-amyloidogenic activity of human Ig {gamma} heavy chains. J Biol Chem. 2009 Nov 4. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 19889627. 
  2. Dalmau, J., Gleichman, A.J., Hughes, E.G., Rossi, J.E., Peng, X., Lai, M., Dessain, S.K., Rosenfeld, M.R., Balice-Gordon, R., Lynch, D.R. (2008). Anti-NMDA-receptor encephalitis: case series and analysis of the effects of antibodies. Lancet Neurol 7, 1091.
  3. Dessain, S.K., Wasilewski, C., Argiris, A. and Kaklamani, V. (2008). Hodgkin Disease. In eMedicine, K.A. Shastri, F. Talavera, W. Hu, R. McKenna, and E.C. Besa, eds. (WebMD) 
  4. Chan, K., Behling, E., Strayer, D.S., Kocher, W.S., Dessain, S.K. (2008). Prolonged hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis syndrome as an initial presentation of Hodgkin lymphoma: a case report. J Med Case Reports, 2, 367.
  5. Adekar SP, Takahashi T, Jones RM, Al-Saleem FH, Ancharski DM, Root MJ, Kapadnis BP, Simpson LL, Dessain SK. Neutralization of botulinum neurotoxin by a human monoclonal antibody specific for the catalytic light chain. PLoS ONE. 2008;(8):e3023 
  6. Adekar SP, Al Saleem FH, Elias MD, Rybinski KA, Simpson LL, Dessain SK: A natural human IgM antibody that neutralizes botulinum neurotoxin in vivo. Hybridoma 2008;27(2):65-9. 
  7. Adekar SP, Jones RM, Elias MD, Al Saleem FH, Root MJ, Simpson LL, Dessain SK: Hybridoma populations enriched for affinity-matured human IgGs yield high-affinity antibodies specific for botulinum neurotoxins. J Immunol Methods 2008;333:156-166.Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 317, 67-101. 
  8. Adekar SP, Jones RM, Elias MD, Al Saleem FH, Root MJ, Simpson LL, Dessain SK: A human monoclonal antibody that binds serotype A botulinum neurotoxin. Hybridoma 2008; 27:11-17. 
  9. Dessain, SK, Adekar, SP, and Berry, JD. (2008). Exploring the native human antibody repertoire to create antiviral therapeutics. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 317, 155-183. 
  10. Nagarajan, T, Rupprecht, C, Dessain, SK, Rangarajan, PN, Thiagarajan, D and Srinivasan, VA. (2008). Human monoclonal antibody and vaccine approaches to prevent human rabies. 
  11. Dessain, SK, ed. (2008). Human antibody therapeutics for viral diseases. (Heidelberg, Springer-Verlag). 
  12. Neofytos D, Ojha A, Mookerjee B, Wagner J, Filicko J, Ferber A, Dessain S, Grosso D, Brunner J, Flomenberg N, Flomenberg P: Treatment of adenovirus disease in stem cell transplant recipients with cidofovir. Biol Blood Marrow Transplant 2007;13:74-81. 
  13. Kuperwasser C, Dessain S, Bierbaum BE, Garnet D, Sperandio K, Gauvin GP, Naber SP, Weinberg RA, Rosenblatt M: A mouse model of human breast cancer metastasis to human bone. Cancer Res 2005;65:6130-6138. 
  14. Dessain SK, Adekar SP, Stevens JB, Carpenter KA, Skorski ML, Barnoski BL, Goldsby RA, Weinberg RA: High efficiency creation of human monoclonal antibody-producing hybridomas. J Immunol Methods 2004;291:109-122.
  15. Hahn WC, Dessain SK, Brooks MW, King JE, Elenbaas B, Sabatini DM, DeCaprio JA, Weinberg RA: Enumeration of the simian virus 40 early region elements necessary for human cell transformation. Mol Cell Biol 2002;22:2111-2123.
  16. Dessain S, Stevens JB, Goldsby RA, Weinberg RA: High efficiency creation of human monoclonal antibody-producing hybridomas. In: Ninth International Conference on Human Antibodies & Hybridomas IOS Press, Berne, Switzerland, 2002. 
  17. Vaziri H, Dessain SK, Ng Eaton E, Imai SI, Frye RA, Pandita TK, Guarente L, Weinberg RA: hSIR2(SIRT1) functions as an NAD-dependent p53 deacetylase. Cell 2001;107:149-159. 
  18. Peters DG, Klucher KM, Perlingeiro RC, Dessain SK, Koh EY, Daley GQ: Autocrine and paracrine effects of an ES-cell derived, BCR/ABL-transformed hematopoietic cell line that induces leukemia in mice. Oncogene 2001;20:2636-2646. 
  19. Dessain SK, Yu H, Reddel RR, Beijersbergen RL, Weinberg RA: Methylation of the human telomerase gene CpG island. Cancer Res 2000;60:537-541. 
  20. Boral AL, Dessain S, Chabner BA: Clinical evaluation of biologically targeted drugs: obstacles and opportunities. Cancer Chemother Pharmacol 1998;42 Suppl:S3-21. 
  21. Goriely A, Stella M, Coffinier C, Kessler D, Mailhos C, Dessain S, Desplan C: A functional homologue of goosecoid in Drosophila. Development 1996;122:1641-1650. 
  22. Dessain S, Gross CT, Kuziora MA, McGinnis W: Antp-type homeodomains have distinct DNA binding specificities that correlate with their different regulatory functions in embryos. Embo J 1992;11:991-1002.
  23. Dessain S, McGinnis W: Regulating the expression and function of homeotic genes. Curr Opin Genet Dev 1991;1:275-282. 
  24. Regulski M, Dessain S, McGinnis N, McGinnis W: High-affinity binding sites for the Deformed protein are required for the function of an autoregulatory enhancer of the Deformed gene. Genes Dev 1991;5:278-286. 
  25. Bernards R, Dessain SK, Weinberg RA: N-myc amplification causes down-modulation of MHC class I antigen expression in neuroblastoma. Cell 1986;47:667-674. 
  1. Patent: Dessain, S.K. and Weinberg, R.A. Fusion partner cells and uses thereof. United States Patent # 7,491,530 (issued February 17, 2009). 
Main Line Health