Scott Dessain, MD, PhD

Photo of Scott Dessain


Phone: 484.476.6516

Office: R227

Department: Faculty

Association: Resident Faculty

Other Appointment:Director CHAT

• BA, Biochemistry with Honors, Brown University, Providence RI, 1985
• MD, PhD (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
• Chanda Devi Kattala, 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. Puligedda RD, Kouiavskaia D, Adekar SP, Sharma R, Devi C, Rezapkin G, Bidzhieva B, Dessain SK, Chumakov K. Human monoclonal antibodies that neutralize vaccine and wild-type poliovirus strains. Antiviral Res. 108C:36-43, 2014.

2. Sharma R, Zhao H, Al-Saleem FH, Ubaid AS, Puligedda RD, Segan AT, Lindorfer MA, Bermudez R, Elias Md, Adekar SP, Simpson LL, Taylor RP, and Dessain SK. Mechanisms of enhanced Neutralization of Botulinum Neurotoxin by Monoclonal Antibodies Conjugated to Antibodies Specific for the Erythrocyte to Complement Receptor Mol Immunol. 57(2):247-254, 2014.

3. Abhinay G, Dessain S, Srikanth A, Senthilkumar RL, Vidyasagar P, Praveen A, Chandrasekhar Reddy RV, Swapna Reddy E, Rajendra L. A novel site-II directed glycoprotein estimation ELISA to aid rabies vaccine manufacture for veterinary and human use. Vaccine, 32(2):209-13, 2014.

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