News Releases

Peter S. Kim named the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Biochemistry at Stanford

January 13, 2015, New York, NY—Peter S. Kim has been named the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine. Established in 1994, Ludwig professorships have since been awarded to a total of 15 leading scientists at academic institutions affiliated with the six U.S.-based Ludwig Centers. With this appointment Kim also becomes a member of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Stem Cell Research and Medicine at Stanford.

Kim’s lab focuses on the mechanisms by which viral membranes fuse with cell membranes, which has to happen for the virus to invade its target cell. His team also studies how that process might be disrupted by small molecules and antibodies. Kim’s lab is, for example, using such studies to engineer antigens for a vaccine that might elicit antibodies that block a key step in HIV’s invasion of its target cell. The strategies that he is developing could be applied to design new preventive and therapeutic vaccines for cancers. His lab is also developing methods to identify small molecules that bind tightly and very specifically to proteins that have so far proved resistant to targeting by typical drug-like molecules.

Kim joined Stanford University in February 2014 after a ten-year tenure as president of Merck Research Laboratories, Merck & Co., Inc. During this time he oversaw the development and FDA approval of Gardasil, the world’s first vaccine against HPV, the causative agent of cervical cancer. Kim began his academic career as a professor in the biology department at MIT, where he ultimately served as associate head. During his 16 years at MIT Kim was also an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

“We are very happy, and fortunate, to have Peter Kim back here at Stanford, where he began his graduate training,” said Irv Weissman, director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Stem Cell Research and Medicine at Stanford. “Peter brings with him rare experience and new strategies for developing preventive tools and therapies—including immunotherapies—for viral infections that cause, allow and/or infect cancers. His goals are in line with our mission, and his approaches complement our own efforts to recruit the immune system to attack cancer cells.”

Kim has received numerous awards for his research and holds leadership positions at several academic and scientific institutions. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He serves on the Scientific Review Board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the External Scientific Advisory Board of the Harvard Program in Therapeutic Science, the Board of Scientific Governors of the Scripps Research Institute and the Scientific Advisory Working Group of the Vaccine Research Center, NIAID, NIH.

Kim joins four other Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professors at Stanford: Lucy Shapiro, Irving Weissman, Sanjiv Sam Gambhir and Roeland Nusse.

About Ludwig Cancer Research

Ludwig Cancer Research is an international collaborative network of acclaimed scientists that has pioneered cancer research and landmark discovery for more than 40 years. Ludwig combines basic science with the ability to translate its discoveries and conduct clinical trials to accelerate the development of new cancer diagnostics and therapies. Since 1971, Ludwig has invested more than $2.5 billion in life-changing science through the not-for-profit Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and the six U.S.-based Ludwig Centers.


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