Randal Kaufman among world's most influential biologists

| Written by kcusato
dr. randal kaufman

Thomson Reuters has announced the world’s most influential scientific minds, and for the second time since 2014, Randal Kaufman, Ph. D., professor and director of SBP’s Degenerative Disease Program, is on that list. Thomson Reuters created the list based on scientists who write the most reports that rank among the top 1 percent cited by other scientists between the years 2003 and 2013. Analysts looked at more than 120,000 papers and recognized close to 3000 scientists.

“I appreciate the recognition,” Dr. Kaufman said. “It’s an honor.”

Dr. Kaufman’s findings explain how protein folding—and misfolding—lead to cell malfunctions and death. His work impacts diseases including neurological, metabolic, genetic and inflammatory disorders. His research also explains some of the symptoms associated with aging.

“I think people recognize how important the unfolded protein response is, and that’s why the work is recited so often,” he said. “It’s turning up in every disease.”

As a Ph.D. graduate student at Stanford University, Dr. Kaufman discovered that cancer cells develop drug resistance by gene amplification. As a post-doctoral fellow working with Nobel laureate Dr. Phillip Sharp at MIT, he studied new ways to express proteins in mammalian cells.

After post-doctoral work, Dr. Kaufman co-founded the Genetics Institute Inc., a biotechnology company focused on treatments for hemophilia and many other disorders. The company developed technology that led to the FDA-approved drugs for hemophilia and erythropoietin for cancer and anemia.

After leaving the Genetics Institute, Inc. he took a position as HHMI investigator and endowed chair in the departments of Biological Chemistry and Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan.  He joined Sanford Burnham Prebys in 2011 to lead the Degenerative Disease Program.

About being chosen as one of the world’s most influential scientists, Dr. Kaufman said, “I wish it would help me get grants!”

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