Dr. Peter Palese is an internationally renowned microbiologist who pioneered the field of reverse genetics for negative-strand RNA viruses, which allows the introduction of site-specific mutations into the genomes of these viruses. This revolutionary technique is crucial for the study of the structure/function relationships of viral genes, for investigation of viral pathogenicity, and for development and manufacture of novel vaccines. The technique has significant implications in understanding and preparing for infectious disease pandemics.
Dr. Palese was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2000 for his seminal studies on influenza viruses. He is also a member of the German Academy of Sciences and a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He serves on the editorial board for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and as an editor for the Journal of Virology. Dr. Palese was President of the Harvey Society in 2004 and President of the American Society for Virology in 2005-2006. His honors include the Robert Koch Prize in 2006 and of the Charles C. Shepard Science Award in 2008.
After earning a PhD in chemistry from the University of Vienna in Austria in 1969, Dr. Palese remained at the university to pursue a master's degree in pharmaceutical science. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in virology at the Roche Institute for Molecular Biology in Nutley, New Jersey. Dr. Palese joined the Mount Sinai faculty in 1971 as an Assistant Professor of Microbiology. He rose through the ranks and was named Chair of the Department of Microbiology in 1987.