Phillip Berman

Phillip Berman

  • Distinguished Research Professor
  • Professor Emeritus, Biomolecular Engineering
  • Baskin Distinguished Professor
  • Biomolecular Engineering
  • 831-459-3529
  • Baskin Engineering, Room 357A
  • SOE2
  • Dr. Phillip Berman is a biotech industry veteran with extensive experience in discovery research and manufacturing process development. He earned his Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Dartmouth Medical School and received postdoctoral training at the Salk Institute (La Jolla, CA) and the Dept. of Biochemistry and Biophysics at UCSF. Dr. Berman joined Genentech in 1982 and for the next 15 years worked on many projects including developing basic technology for the expression and recovery of recombinant proteins as well as the development of vaccines and diagnostics to detect, prevent and treat virus infections (e.g. Herpes Simplex Virus and HIV). He played a leadership role on projects focusing on therapeutic monoclonal antibodies to treat autoimmunity and inflammatory disease. Dr. Berman is best known for his 30 year effort to develop an HIV vaccine, where he developed the first vaccine that could induce neutralizing antibodies and protect chimpanzees from HIV infection, and culminated in the world's first large scale, Phase III, HIV vaccine efficacy trials involving more than 7500 volunteers in North America, Europe and Thailand. His quest for an HIV vaccine began at Genentech and was continued at VaxGen, a company co-founded by Dr. Berman and CDC vaccine expert, Dr. Donald Francis. While at VaxGen (1997-2004), Dr. Berman served as Sr. Vice President of Research and Development where, besides carrying out activities to support the HIV vaccine trials, he led the conceptual design team for joint venture to create a large-scale, GMP, mammalian cell vaccine manufacturing facility in South Korea (Celltrion, Inc.). In 2004 Dr. Berman and Dr. Francis left VaxGen and founded Global Solutions for Infectious Diseases (GSID), a not-for-profit 501c3 organization, with initial funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal of GSID was to combine technology from the biotechnology industry and know-how from the public health sector to address problems of infectious disease prevention in the developing world. Dr. Berman joined the faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz in July of 2006 where he served as Department Chair and the Jack Baskin Professor of Biomolecular Engineering. In 2009 the results of the RV144 vaccine trial became available, that showed that the vaccine developed in Dr. Berman’s lab (AIDSVAX B/E), could prevent HIV infection, when combined with another vaccine from Sanofi-Aventis. This trial, that involved a collaboration with Dr. Debra Birx of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, showed for the first time that vaccination could prevent HIV infection in humans. Dr. Berman's research currently focuses on antigen processing and presentation of virus envelope proteins and the use of CRISPR/Cas9 to engineer CHO cell lines for cost effective large scale manufacturing complex glycoprotein subunit vaccines against HIV and SARS-CoV-2. Dr. Berman has written more than 124 peer scientific publications and filed 20 patents.
  • Biotechnology
  • Drug Development
  • Vaccines
  • Monoclonal antibody therapeutics
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Cell line engineering
  • Recombinant protein production
  • Immunology
  • Molecular/cell biology

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