University of Florida microbiology Professor Nicholas Muzyczka, whose groundbreaking work on adeno-associated viruses has driven numerous breakthroughs in gene therapy, is one of seven inventors being inducted into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame in 2016.
AAV, a human virus that causes no perceptible illness, has emerged over the last decade as one of the leading vehicles for delivering copies of good genes to patients suffering from hereditary diseases such as cystic fibrosis.
“In the simplest cases, the patient is missing a normal gene,” Muzyczka said. “What [AAV] delivers would correct the disease; AAV itself just disappears … after it delivers the payload.”
Muzyczka, the Edward R. Koger Eminent Scholar for Cancer, holds 15 U.S. patents and his research has led to potential therapies for neurodegenerative, pulmonary, cardiovascular and eye diseases. In 1994, he became founding director of the Powell Gene Therapy Center, making UF one of the leading institutions in AAV gene therapy. In 2001, Muzyczka founded Applied Genetic Technologies Corp, a Florida-based company that commercializes gene therapy applications.
Joining Muzyczka as 2016 inductees are Nobel Laureate Andrew Schally of the University of Miami; Jacqueline Quinn, environmental engineer at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center; William Dalton of M2Gen, a subsidiary of Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute for his revolutionizing developments in cancer treatment; Yogi Goswami of the University of South Florida, for his pioneering contributions and technology development related to solar energy and indoor air quality; Alan Marshall of Florida State University, inventor of Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance mass spectrometry; and MJ Soileau of the University of Central Florida, for his innovative research in the advancement of high energy laser optics used by the U.S. Department of Defense.
All will be inducted at the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Third Annual Induction Ceremony & Gala on Sept. 16 in Tampa.