Timothy M. Block, PhD
President and Director
Dr. Block is Co- Founder and President of the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute and the Hepatitis B Foundation, which established the Institute in 2003 to advance its research mission to find a cure for hepatitis B. He has been involved in hepatitis research for more than 25 years and is internationally recognized for his scholarship and scientific contributions to the field. Dr. Block was a tenured Professor at Thomas Jefferson University for 20 years and at Drexel University College of Medicine for 10 years.
After learning of a young family affected by hepatitis B, Dr. Block shifted his scientific research to hepatitis B in pursuit of a cure for this serious liver disease. With Jan and Paul Witte of New Hope, PA and his wife Joan, the Hepatitis B Foundation was established in 1991, which continues to be the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to the cause of hepatitis B.
After 20 years, the Hepatitis B Foundation has grown from a grassroots effort into a professional nonprofit organization with a global reach. And the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute has the largest concentration of nonprofit scientists working on hepatitis B and liver cancer in the United States.
Dr. Block began his scientific career at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA where he founded and directed the Jefferson Center for Biomedical Research in 1997, which was the result of a unique collaboration between Thomas Jefferson University and the Hepatitis B Foundation. His goal was to bring scientists interested in finding cures for chronic viral hepatitis together in one place. He was later recruited to Drexel University College of Medicine at which time the Jefferson Center was re-opened as the Drexel Institute for Biotechnology and Virus Research. In March 2015, Dr. Block stepped down from his tenured position at Drexel University to concentrate fulltime on the research mission of the Blumberg Institute and the Hepatitis B Foundation.
Dr. Block entered college at age 14 to study physics at the State University of New York. He entered the life sciences as a graduate and postdoctoral student at the State University of New York and Princeton Universities, respectively. As a Sabbatical Fellow at the University of Oxford, he worked with Dr. Baruch S. Blumberg (Nobel Laureate) and Dr. Raymond Dwek (Fellow of the Royal Society) and discovered a promising plant sugar, called “NBDNJ” that prevented the secretion of HBV from liver cells without killing the cells.
Further studies into the mechanism of action of NBDNJ have led to important findings regarding how the virus moves in the cell. NBDNJ has now received the trade name “glycovir” and, in an improved form, is being tested for its therapeutic potential in animals. It may open the door to a new family of anti-hepatitis B agents and provide a valuable tool in the fight against hepatitis B.
His other major discovery in antiviral research is the development of a novel microorganism based assay for antiviral drugs called “MOBA.” In 1990, Dr. Block received the WW Smith award for MOBA, which is patented and currently used, or in development to search for many antiviral agents. In 1979, he also discovered with others the phenomenon called “co-transformation” of mammalian cells, which has served as the basis for introducing foreign DNA into cultured cells and is universally used in research.
Dr. Block has numerous patents for his discoveries and publications that have contributed significantly to advancing the field. His awards include “Scientist of the Year” by the American Liver Foundation; “Visiting Distinguished Professor” at South Korea’s Dongook University; an Honorary Degree from The Romanian Academy of Sciences for basic science advances in viral hepatitis; induction into the Bulgarian National Academy of Medicine and Sciences for his contributions to hepatitis B research; named “One of the 100 most important people in Bucks County of the last century” by The Intelligencer; honored as Judge’s Choice, CEO of the Year, by Philadelphia Business Journal’s Inaugural Life Science Award; and elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Dr. Block serves on the Board of Directors of the Hepatitis B Foundation, Baruch S. Blumberg Institute, and the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center. He serves on numerous editorial and professional boards, as well as NIH study sections. He has been coordinator of many national and international meetings focusing on hepatitis; elected Fellow, International Union Against Cancer; elected Fellow, The Glycobiology Institute of the University of Oxford; and has received many grant awards to perform research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Institutes of Health.