Baruch S. Blumberg Institute Honors Two Scientists for Drug Discoveries

Research institute inducted two new members into ‘Drug Inventors Wall of Fame’ recognizing scientists whose drugs are treating human diseases

DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (March 2017) – The Baruch S. Blumberg Institute has inducted two new scientists into its “Drug Inventors Wall of Fame” for their role in bringing new drugs to market for the treatment of hepatitis C and chronic ideopathic constipation. Min Gao, PhD, and Kunwar Shailubhai, PhD, MBA, join six other scientists who were previously inducted into the Wall of Fame, located within the Blumberg Institute’s facility in Doylestown, PA.

The Blumberg Institute, the research arm of the Hepatitis B Foundation, unveiled the Drug Inventors Wall of Fame in 2015 to recognize outstanding scientists  whose drug discoveries have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for human use. Dr. Gao, Senior Research Fellow at Arbutus Biopharma, and Dr. Shailubhai, Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer at Synergy Pharmaceuticals, both also hold positions as adjunct faculty at the Blumberg Institute.

“We are proud to honor  two of our research faculty members for their achievements in bringing new drugs to market,” said Dr. Timothy Block, president and co-founder of the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute and the Hepatitis B Foundation. “The Blumberg Institute fosters an environment in which scientists can be recognized and appreciated for their commitment to improving quality of life for those facing debilitating diseases.”

The two new inductees to the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute Drug Inventors Wall of Fame are:

Min Gao, PhD is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Arbutus Biopharma.  Prior to joining Arbutus, Dr. Gao held multiple research positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Research Institute (BMS) over more than 20 years. While at BMS, Dr. Gao  led the discovery of HCV NS5A inhibitor, a compound targeting a protein found in the hepatitis C virus, which was developed into daclatasvir (DaklinzaTM) and approved by the FDA in 2015 for the treatment of hepatitis C. His awards include Bristol-Myers Squibb “Presidential Award” (1996) for the discovery and characterization of the hepatitis B antiviral preclinical lead, BMS 200,475 (Entecavir); Triumph DOC Award (2002) for development of HCV system and identification of replication inhibitors; Ondetti & Cushman Award (2009) for scientific Innovation and the Galaxy Award (2014) for HCV global submission and responses. Dr. Gao has over 65 research articles published in virology journals and holds four patents.

Kunwar Shailubhai, PhD, MBA serves as co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Synergy Pharmaceuticals, where he led the discovery of the drug plecanatide (TRULANCETM) which was approved for the treatment of adults with chronic idiopathic constipation in January 2017. Dr. Shailubhai has held leadership positions at Monsanto Life Sciences Company (St. Louis, MO), Callisto Pharmaceuticals, and Synergy Pharmaceuticals Inc. At Monsanto Company Dr. Shailubhai worked on a number of projects in inflammatory diseases and cancer, and eventually headed the cancer prevention group where he initiated research programs focusing on prevention of breast, prostate, and colon cancer in humans. He also initiated discovery projects to explore the therapeutic potential of uroguanylin, a physiological agonist of guanylate cyclase-C (GC-C), in GI disorders, diseases and colon cancer. These pioneering research efforts opened a novel avenue for therapeutic applications of uroguanylin and other GC-C agonists, not only in colon cancer but also in other GI diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome-constipation (IBS-C), chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Dr. Shailubhai discovered several other proprietary GC-C agonists as part of the development of Synergy’s discovery portfolio. Dr. Shailubhai has 17 issued patents, several pending patent applications, and 40 research publications in journals of international repute.

About the Baruch S. Blumberg Institute: The Baruch S. Blumberg Institute is an independent, nonprofit research institute established in 2003 by the Hepatitis B Foundation to conduct discovery research and nurture translational biotechnology in an environment conducive to interaction, collaboration and focus. It was renamed in 2013 to honor Baruch S. Blumberg, who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the hepatitis B virus and co-founded the Hepatitis B Foundation. To learn more, visit www.blumberginstitute.org.

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