Don Ganem, M.D.

Dr. Don Ganem is the Vice President and Global Head of Infectious Diseases at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) in Emeryville, California. His group focuses on developing new treatments for serious bacterial, viral and fungal infections in both the normal and the immunocompromised host. The antibacterial research focuses on new approaches to antibiotic development based on deeper understanding of the many mechanisms of antibiotic resistance, and the deployment of strategies to circumvent these mechanisms. Their efforts in virology research are focused on discovering new treatments for many types of viruses including HCV, respiratory viruses and several opportunistic viral pathogens of the immunosuppressed host.

Don also oversees two institutes focused on developing world diseases, the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases and the Novartis Vaccines Institute for Global Health.

Don is a virologist and infectious diseases specialist who has studied the mechanisms of replication and disease induction by human viral pathogens. His early work centered on the replicative cycle of viruses of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) family. His laboratory established the pathway by which HBV subviral particles and virions are assembled, and many aspects of HBV’s intricate pathway of reverse transcription.

After a 15-year focus on the replication of HBV, in 1995 he turned his attention to the study of the herpesvirus (KSHV) that causes the AIDS-related neoplasm, Kaposi’s sarcoma. His lab at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) was the first to cultivate KSHV, and has extensively characterized its latent and lytic transcriptional programs, its modulation of host cell signaling, as well as its ability to evade innate and adaptive immunity.

After graduating from Harvard College in 1972, he received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and went on to residency and chief residency in internal medicine at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. He did subspecialty training in infectious diseases at UCSF, where he worked in the laboratory of Nobel laureate Harold Varmus prior to joining the faculty there in 1982. Don was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2003, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004, and the National Academy of Sciences in 2010. He served as the President of the American Society for Virology in 2006-2007.

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At the earliest stages of Research, our drug discovery priorities are determined by patient need and sound science – not the potential market size of a medicine.