M. Block, Ph.D., is the volunteer President and Director for
the Institute for Hepatitis and Virus Research, and the Hepatitis
B Foundation; Director, Drexel
Institute for Biotechnology and Virology Research; and Professor,
Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel
University College of Medicine.
After learning of a moving personal story, Dr. Timothy Block shifted
his professional scientific direction and dedicated himself to the pursuit
of finding a cure for disease caused by the hepatitis B virus. With his
wife Joan, and Jan and Paul Witte of New Hope, PA, he helped establish
the Hepatitis B Foundation in 1991, which is the only nonprofit organization
solely dedicated to the cause of hepatitis B. Their public advocacy initiative
has resulted in raising awareness of the worldwide problem of hepatitis
B around the globe, and is highlighted in the introduction of laws in
the United States requiring hepatitis B vaccination of school children,
most notably Act 15 in Pennsylvania, his home state.
Dr. Block was the Founder and Director of the Jefferson Center for Biomedical
Research, which opened in the fall of 1997, and was the result of a unique
collaboration between Thomas Jefferson University and the Hepatitis B
Foundation. His goal was to bring scientists interested in finding cures
for hepatitis together in one place. In the summer of 2004, Drexel University
created a new research division, the Drexel Institute for Biotechnology
and Virus Research, located at the site of the former Jefferson Center.
Dr. Block is also Founder and Director of the new Drexel Institute.
Dr. Block entered college at age 14 to study physics at the State University
of New York. He entered the life sciences as a graduate and postdoctoral
student at the State University of New York and Princeton Universities,
respectively. At Oxford University, as a Sabbatical Fellow working with
Baruch S. Blumberg (Nobel Laureate) and Raymond Dwek (Fellow, Royal Society),
he discovered that a plant sugar, called “NBDNJ” prevented
the secretion of HBV from liver cells without killing the cells. Further
studies into the mechanism of action of NBDNJ have led to important findings
regarding how the virus moves in the cell. NBDNJ has now received the
trade name “glycovir” and, in an improved form, is being tested
for its therapeutic potential in animals. It may open the door to a new
family of anti-hepatitis B agents and provide a valuable tool in the fight
against hepatitis B.
His other major discovery in antiviral research is the development of
a novel microorganism based assay for antiviral drugs, called “MOBA”.
In 1990, Dr. Block received the WW Smith award for MOBA, which is patented
and currently used, or in development to search for many antiviral agents.
With others, in 1979, he also discovered the phenomenon called “co-transformation”
of mammalian cells, which has served as the basis for introducing foreign
DNA into cultured cells and is universally used in research.
In 1998, he was named “Scientist of the Year” by the American
Liver Foundation (Delaware Valley). He has received the “Special
Public Service” award (with his wife, Joan Block, RN) from the American
Liver Foundation (national board); “Visiting Distinguished Professor”
at Dongook University (South Korea); an Honorary Degree from The Romanian
Academy of Sciences for basic science advances in viral hepatitis; and
inducted into the Bulgarian National Academy of Medicine and Sciences
for his contributions to hepatitis B research. The Daily Intelligencer
newspaper named Dr. Block as “One of the 100 most important people
in Bucks County of the last century”.
Dr. Block serves on the Board of Directors of the Hepatitis B Foundation,
Institute for Hepatitis and Virus Research, Delaware Valley Chapter of
the American Liver Foundation, and numerous other editorial and professional
boards. He serves on NIH study sections; has been coordinator of several
national and international meetings focusing on hepatitis; elected Fellow,
International Union Against Cancer; elected Fellow, The Glycobiology Institute,
University of Oxford; and has received many awards to perform research
from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.