Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer
Arun is currently George H. Kitzman Professor of Genetics and Chief of the Division of Cellular & Molecular Therapy in the Departments of Pediatrics, and the Powell Gene Therapy Center at the University of Florida. After completing his postdoctoral training at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, he worked as a Research Associate at the University of Florida, in the laboratory of Dr. Kenneth I. Berns, a world-renowned expert on AAV, and determined the complete nucleotide sequence of the AAV genome. He was on the faculty at Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis for nearly two decades, where he rose to the rank of Professor. He was recruited back to the University of Florida in 2004.
For nearly four decades, Arun’s research has focused on the virology and pathophysiology of two human parvoviruses, the adeno-associated virus (AAV), and the parvovirus B19, and the application of these as vectors for gene therapy. His laboratory has shed light on many fascinating insights into the field of parvoviruses, including molecular mechanisms of viral entry into cells, intracellular viral trafficking and regulation of AAV DNA replication and encapsidation, and parvovirus-induced pathogenicity in transgenic and knockout mouse models.
Arun has mentored ten Clinical Fellows and thirty-five Postdoctoral Fellows. Two students have graduated with MS degrees, and thirteen students have received their PhD degrees from his laboratory. His research activities are currently supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health. He has also been awarded eighteen US Patents on his research on human parvoviruses and their potential use as vectors for human gene therapy. He has served on several NIH Study Sections, and he also serves on the Editorial Boards of Gene Therapy and Molecular Biology, Journal of Virology, Human Gene Therapy, Recent Patents on DNA and Gene Sequences, Journal of Integrative Medicine, and as an Executive Editor of the Journal of Genetic Syndromes and Gene Therapy. He was appointed as Honorary Professor and Advisor, Shenzhen Institute of Xiangya Biomedicine, Central South University, Shenzhen, PR China, University of Florida Research Foundation Professor, and Children’s Miracle Network Scholar. More recently, he was named the University of Florida Term Professor.
Arun was the founding scientist of Avigen, the first AAV gene therapy company, which was launched in 1992. He also served on Avigen’s SAB from 1992-1995. He is a co-founder of three additional AAV gene therapy companies, Lacerta Therapeutics, Nirvana Therapeutics, and KASHX Bio, that were launched in 2018.
Arun received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in 1971 and 1973, respectively, from the University of Allahabad, founded in 1887, which is the fourth oldest university in India. He obtained his Ph.D. degree in 1979 from the Indian Institute of Science, founded in 1909, which is one of the premier institutes for advanced scientific and technological research and education in India.