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November 21, 2011
John O Shea
Dr. John O'Shea describes the NIH as a place where "people come from around the world and give their heart and soul to tough problems." He recounts his own tough problem, "a bedside to bench to bedside story," which began in 1994, when his team discovered a protein, Jak3, the absence of which causes severe immunodeficiency in humans. O'Shea's team cloned the gene that encodes Jak3, about which he says, "Back when we were doing this, it was actually really hard to clone a gene...now you can just sit at home, drinking a cup of coffee, and go on the Internet, and you can find out all this stuff. But it took us months, and months and months." The slow-going work paid off: O'Shea and his colleagues have collaborated with Pfizer to develop tofacitinab, a compound that helps block transplant rejections and might help treat certain autoimmune diseases.
This page last reviewed on April 22, 2015