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The American Society for Microbiology honors Zachary A. Klase

Zachary A. Klase, Ph.D., National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, M.D., has been chosen by the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) to receive a 2011 ICAAC Young Investigator Award for his outstanding research on HIV-1 pathogenesis and RNA interference mechanisms in mammalian cells. Sponsored by Merck, U.S. Human Health Division, this award recognizes an early career scientist for research excellence in microbiology and infectious diseases.

Dr. Klase is described by his nominator, Kuan-Teh Jeang, Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology from NIAID/NIH, Bethesda, MD, as a "thoughtful and intelligent young scientist with a terrific future" who has made outstanding contributions to "the understanding of how HIV transcription is regulated, how HIV TAR RNA may be processed into microRNA, and in showing how this potential microRNA could function within human cells."

Dr. Klase completed his undergraduate degree in animal biotechnology at Cook College, Rutgers University before entering the world of HIV research at St. Michael's hospital in Newark, New Jersey. There he worked under Stephen Smith, studying the role of macrophages in infection and overseeing a small-scale SIV vaccine trial.

Dr. Klase then enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the George Washington University Medical Center. While at George Washington, Dr. Klase worked under the tutelage of Fatah Kashanchi and published a seminal paper describing the role of the HIV-1 TAR element as a functional microRNA. This paper rapidly achieved BMC's 'Highly Accessed' rating and was ranked as a 'must read' on Faculty of 1000. Dr. Kashanchi, a supporter of Dr. Klase's nominationnow at George Mason Universityhas witnessed "labs that are now publishing on this topic, and grants that cite his work and are following the next set of questions related to HIV microRNA."

While at George Washington, Dr. Klase also published numerous articles relating to HIV, HTLV, chromatin, transcription and proteomics. A supporter of Dr. Klase's nomination, Ajit Kumar from the George Washington University Medical Center, expands on his work while a student: "the questions he asks and the approach he takes, hold tremendous promise for understanding host-pathogen interactions and will be novel approaches to antiviral therapy. I have no doubt he will continue to approach his science with sound understanding of the literature, careful planning, and persistence."

Dr. Klase currently works as a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Jeang's laboratory at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. He is supported in his research by a competitive NIAID Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship. His current work includes further examination of the role of RNA interference in HIV replication and pathogenesis, as well as studies probing innate immune signaling in mice, HIV-1 transcription and retroviral super infection resistance.

In his career as a scientist, Dr. Klase has traveled to numerous domestic and foreign meetings and has had the opportunity to both present his work and collaborate with numerous talented investigators from across the globe. He is passionate about his research, and believes that teaching the next generation of scientists is vital to science's success.


Contact: Garth Hogan
American Society for Microbiology

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