College of Medicine professor receives Faculty Scholar Medal

A Penn State College of Medicine faculty member is one of six Penn State faculty to receive the 2018 Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement.

Established in 1980, the award recognizes scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. A committee of peers reviews nominations and selects candidates.

Among the awardees was Neil Christensen, professor of pathology and microbiology and immunology.

Christensen, who was awarded the Faculty Scholar Medal in Entrepreneurship, Technology Transfer and Economic Development, has spent three decades studying the immunity and pathogenesis of papillomavirus infection to better understand how the virus can lead to genital malignancies.

His research involves the construction of a large and diverse set of monoclonal antibodies to various viral and host proteins with particular strength and probes that recognize HPV capsids and that have virus neutralizing activities. Christensen's antibodies were foundational for the development of commercially available HPV vaccines and vaccine candidates.

Christensen maintains a library of more than 500 monoclonal antibodies which he has distributed worldwide to more than 50 academic and industry research labs. As of 2018, there are more than 80 Penn State agreements in place for the acquisition of his antibodies.

“The interest in Christensen's antibodies supports his mastery for antibody creation,” a nominator said. “His expertise is not limited to the generation of antibodies against HPV. Christensen and his team have experience in antibody purification, Fab production, immunoassays and the construction of single-chain variable fragment reagents,” a nominator said. “Because of this experience, Christensen is currently collaborating with more than 15 Penn State colleagues, creating antibodies for various clinical targets and applications.”

In an effort to create low-cost antibodies for he and his colleagues, Christensen is currently embarking on a new pursuit. He is launching a monoclonal antibody core facility at Penn State. The facility will provide a multitude of services including generation of mouse monoclonal antibodies, rabbit monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies and antibody purification. The facility in the near future aims to offer humanized monoclonal antibodies, nanobodies and biomedical products.

“Christensen's research and intellectual property embodies translational science, contributing to vaccine development, positive impact to human health worldwide and has generated one of the largest licensing income streams of any faculty member at Penn State,” a nominator said.

See more about the other recipients in this Penn State News story.

May 13, 2018 Penn State College of Medicine News

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