Posts tagged: Dennis L. Kasper

Processing of Dennis Kasper papers has begun

By , April 22, 2016

Dennis L. Kasper (1943-) is the William Ellery Channing Professor of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology and Immunobology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. He has had a long career studying infectious diseases, and  is known for his research related to bacterial carbohydrates, as well as the interactions of microbes with the immune system. He has focused on carbohydrates of group B Streptococcus, the foremost cause of serious neonatal bacterial infections, and Bacteroides fragilis, an intestinal commensal, and has studied the interactions of the microbiota with the mucosal and systemic immune systems, including Francisella tularensis, a potential agent of bioterrorism. He has also served as the Director of the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital;  the Executive Dean of Academic Programs, Harvard Medical School; and the Scientific Director at the New England Center on Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases at Harvard Medical School, all in Boston, Massachusetts. The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to report that the Dennis Kasper papers, a product of his professional activities, research, and career as a Professor and administrator at Harvard Medical School, are currently being processed as part of the Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project.

Dennis L. Kasper was born on February 23, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois. He received his college degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana, in 1963, majoring in Zoology. Kasper completed his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, 1967, and later received an honorary Master’s of Arts from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1986. He began his time at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, in 1972, as a Research Fellow at the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In 1975, Kasper was hired as an Assistant Physician, Department of Medicine at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, and as a Harriet Ryan Albee Fellow in Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He became an Associate in Medicine, Peter Brent Brigham Division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital (1977). Kasper acted as an Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School from 1978-1985, at which point he was promoted to Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. During this time, he became a Physician and the Director, Division of Infections, Beth Israel Hospital in 1981. Kasper acted as the Associate Director the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital from 1982-1988, when he became the Co-Director, and then the Director. His academic career included a post as the Edward Kass Professor of Medicine (1988) and then as the William Ellery Channing Professor of Medicine and Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Harvard Medical School, positions Kasper has held since 1989. He additionally acted as the Executive Vice Chairman, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and as the Executive Dean for Academic Programs at Harvard Medical School (1997-2003). He continues to teach, and has served as the Scientific Director at the New England Center of Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases, Harvard Medical School (2003-2014).

Much of Kasper’s research has been related to the interactions of microbes, both commensals and pathogens, with the immune systems. His laboratory research has focused on bacterial carbohydrates. In studies integrating structural carbohydrate chemistry, microbiology, immunology, biochemistry, and genetics, Kasper and his laboratory staff have studied the carbohydrates of group B Streptococcus, the foremost cause of serious neonatal bacterial infections, and Bacteroides fragilis, an important intestinal commensal. His research also encompasses the interactions of the microbiota with the mucosal and systemic immune systems.  His laboratory work on commensals has led to identification of other aspects of the microbiome‘s interactions with the immune system, including the relationship of the microbiome to iNKT cells and mammalian susceptibility to experimental colitis and asthma. Another area of Kasper’s work deals with Francisella tularensis, which is considered a potential agent of bioterrorism.

The papers, created throughout Kasper’s professional, research, teaching, and publishing activities, include correspondence, research data and notes, teaching records, grant and patent materials, and writings and drafts. They are expected to be opened to research by the end of 2016.

The Maximizing Microbiology: Molecular Genetics, Cancer, and Virology, 1936-2000 project is funded by a Hidden Collections grant from the Harvard University Libraries. In addition to the Harold Amos papers, the project will also open the collections of other scientists and professors whose work relates to the origins of molecular genetics: the Francesc Duran i Reynals papers, 1913-1960, the Arthur B. Pardee papers, 1949-2001, the Luigi Gorini papers, 1922-1988, the Myron Essex papers, 1949-1996, and the Harold Amos papers, 1949-2003. Already, the Bernard D. Davis papers, 1909-1995 (inclusive), 1939-1994 (bulk), have been opened as part of the project. For more information on the Maximizing Microbiology project, please contact Emily Novak Gustainis, Head, Collections Services or Elizabeth Coup, Processing Assistant.

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