Virologist Leor Weinberger is the Bowes Distinguished Professor at the Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco where he leads a virology discovery group focused on engineering new, resistance-proof antiviral medicines for the developing world. In 2019, Leor and his group succeeded in developing the first Therapeutic Interfering Particles (TIPs) and showed it to be effective against HIV in animals. Leor holds numerous patents for inventing novel antiviral medicines. He served on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Innovation review panel, and his research has been widely published in Science, Nature, and Cell. Leor was a Pew Scholar, a Keck awardee, and a Sloan Fellow. He is the only person to win the NIH Director’s Pioneer, Avant Garde, and New Innovator Awards.Find out more
In early days of his career, Virologist Leor Weinberger noticed a fundamental mismatch in the creation of viral therapies. While viruses are dynamic, therapies were static. He spent the next 20 years pursuing a radical question: Can a therapy mutate and transmit just as a virus does? He chased this idea wholeheartedly, in a quest for a dynamic therapy for HIV. In doing so, he created a "hijacker therapy" which allows a vaccine hijacker cell to protect cells from HIV. This would not only stop the spread of HIV, but could change the future of viral outbreaks. Leor persevered to create a vaccine for HIV that effectively mimics the properties of a virus itself.
To learn how this discovery could stop the next viral pandemic, watch Leor's Talk, “Can we create vaccines that mutate and spread?" now on TEDMED.com.
Note: FDA clinical trial approval indicates ppIND review.