John D. Lambris, Ph.D.

Bio pictureDr. Lambris, the Dr. Ralph and Sallie Weaver Professor of Research Medicine in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is an established authority in the field of innate immunity. Using complement as a model system, he applies ideas and methods embodied in engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, biomedicine, and other fields to address today’s challenges in biosciences.

Since Dr. Lambris moved to the University of Pennsylvania in 1990, he has received over $50,000,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH). Excelling in his research, he has published more than 450 papers and has edited eight books, as well as three special Journal Issues.

Dr. Lambris’ group has contributed to a new perception of the various functions of complement in health, the molecular bases for these versatile functions, the role of complement in major diseases, and the therapeutic intervention to treat such complement-mediated disorders. While traditionally viewed as a simple antimicrobial defense system, the research performed by Dr. Lambris has manifested that complement is highly integrated in many physiological processes ranging from cell development, homeostasis, and orchestration of inflammatory responses to tissue repair and metabolism.

With 30 ongoing collaborations worldwide, he has been involved in many key studies defining novel functions of complement. His study about the role of complement in a cancer model has led to a paradigm shift since it revealed a contributing rather than regulatory role of the cascade in tumor development. In addition, he has published several studies clarifying the contribution of complement to several disorders and adverse effects.  In the past few years, Dr. Lambris’ group has not only contributed in the solution of crystal structures of individual complement proteins but has also described key molecular complexes and uncovered fascinating molecular mechanism that drive complement response and specificity.

Through his extensive studies of complement evasion by the pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, he has deepened the mechanistic understanding of complement and described dynamic structural mechanism such as the allosteric control of complement activity by bacterial proteins. At the same time, he has utilized those functional, structural, and mechanistic insights to tailor complement inhibitors for therapeutic application in many diseases. In particular, he has increased both the efficacy and pharmacokinetic profiles of the complement inhibitor Compstatin (16 issued patent families with patents in the US, Europe and elsewhere around the world and several pending applications) and successfully tested it in disease models ranging from sepsis to hemodialysis-induced thrombosis.

In recognition of his achievements among his peers, Dr. Lambris was elected the first President of the International Complement Society. Furthermore, he was recently awarded an Honorary Doctors Degree by the University of Kalmar and University of Uppsala in Sweden and the Hans Kupzyk Guest Professor from the Ulm University in Germany for his contribution to the complement field. Dr. Lambris is also the Founder and Executive Director of Aegean Conferences, an independent, nonprofit, organization, which serves as a forum through which scientists around the world can discuss and propagate the latest developments in biomedical research.

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