Peter Palese

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai


Peter Palese is Professor of Microbiology and Chair of the Department of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York. His research is in the area of RNA-containing viruses with a special emphasis on influenza viruses. Specifically, he established the first genetic maps for influenza A, B, and C viruses, identified the function of several viral genes, and defined the mechanism of neuraminidase inhibitors (which are now FDA-approved antivirals). He 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 technique is crucial for the study of the structure and function relationships of viral genes, for investigation of viral pathogenicity, and for development and manufacturing of novel vaccines. An improvement of the technique has been effectively used by him and his colleagues to reconstruct and study the pathogenicity of the highly virulent, but extinct, 1918 pandemic influenza virus. His recent work in collaboration with García-Sastre has revealed that most negative strand RNA viruses possess proteins with interferon antagonist activity, enabling them to counteract the antiviral response of the infected host. At present, Palese’s group works with Adolfo García-Sastre and Florian Krammer on the development of a universal influenza virus vaccine. He was a recipient of the Robert Koch Prize in 2006, a recipient of the European Virology Award (EVA) in 2010, a recipient of the 2012 Sanofi-Institut Pasteur Award, and the awardee of the 2015 Beijerink Virology Prize of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences (2000), a Member of the National Academy of Medicine (2012) and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2014).