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Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Kathryn C. Zoon, PhD




My Ph.D. training with John Scocca was an exceptional experience in my development as a scientist. He taught me to think critically and be thorough. Equally important was the lesson to accept criticism and use it to improve as a scientist.

When thinking back to our day-to-day discussions, one of the key points he imparted to me was to ask the right scientific questions and be as creative and comprehensive as possible in generating a plan to address them. Many of the skill sets I learned from John have helped me achieve my career goals. I am proud to have had my training in BMB. Thank you John Scocca and BMB.

Following JHSPH, my journey lead me to a fellowship at NIH with Nobel Laureate Christian B. Anfinsen, mainly through the help of Roger Herriot then Chair of the Department. While there, I performed research on human interferon. Our group was one of the first to purify a human interferon and was the first to obtain the N-terminal amino acid sequence of human interferon alpha. Today my research group still performs research on human interferons.

Following my fellowship at NIH, I took a position at the FDA where I was able to advance until I was finally selected as the Director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, a position which I held for 10 years. We focused on developing policies to facilitate the development of biotechnology products, helped to advance the approval of a number of vaccines and worked to achieve a safer blood supply.

I then returned to the NIH as the deputy director of the Center for Cancer Research, NCI and ultimately I achieved my dream job: the Scientific Director of the intramural program of the NIAID, which I have held since 2006. Leading one of the world’s premier immunology and infectious disease program has been exciting and fulfilling. Throughout my career, I have worked to support public health, a dedication that was instilled and cultivated during my training at JHSPH.

Kathryn C. Zoon, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Intramural Research
Chief, Cytokine Biology Section
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, DHHS