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David A. Dean, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Administrative: (585) 275-5948

Office: (585) 276-3933

Office: (585) 756-7780

Research Labs

Faculty Appointments



Despite all of the hype regarding gene therapy, at present, gene therapy is a dream due to insufficient levels of gene transfer and expression at desired sites. One way to increase gene expression is to target more DNA to the cell nucleus. Since the nucleus is the site of transcription, without the movement of plasmids through the cytoplasm, translocation into the nucleus, and localization to the appropriate subnuclear domain, no gene expression, or "gene therapy" can take place. Ongoing projects in my laboratory are studying the mechanisms of cytoplasmic trafficking of plasmids along the cytoskeleton, plasmid nuclear entry, subnuclear organization, and exploiting what we learn to improve gene therapy.

We have shown that plasmids are able to enter the nucleus in a sequence-specific manner that appears to be mediated by transcription factor binding. My lab is interested in identifying the proteins required for this activity and the regulation of their nuclear import. Based on our model, we have created cell-specific plasmids by incorporating DNA sequences that bind to cell-specific transcription factors. At present, we have examples of smooth muscle, alveolar epithelial cell, and endothelial cell-targeting vectors that we hope to use for the treatment of a number of pulmonary diseases, and we are working to expand our repertoire to selectively target expression to any desired cell or tissue.

We also are developing methods for extracellular delivery of non-viral vectors in animal models for disease. Using electroporation, we have obtained very high levels of gene expression in the vasculature and lungs of animals. We have used this approach to prevent and/or cure existing disease in models of acute lung injury and asthma in mice and rats. Our next goal is to optimize these approaches in more relevant preclinical models to move toward clinical application.



BA | University of California at San Diego

PhD | University of California at Berkeley

PhD | University of California, Berkeley

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

1990 - 1994
University of California, Los Angeles Postdoctoral Fellow Virology


Ruth A. Lawrence Academic Faculty Service Award in Research
Location: University of Rochester

Mentoring the Mentors
Sponsor: Searle Center for Teaching Excellence
Location: Northwestern University

Sandler Program for Asthma Research Senior Investigator
Sponsor: unsolicited conversion of award status
Location: Northwestern University

1991 - 1994
NIH Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (NRSA)

President's Undergraduate Scholarship
Location: University of California

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Journal Articles

Bai H, Zhou R, Barravecchia M, Norman R, Friedman AE, Yu D, Lin X, Young JL, Dean DA. "MRCK? interacts with and mediates Na+, K+-ATPase-induced tight junction assembly in the lung epithelium." JCI insight.. 2021 Jan 28; Epub 2021 Jan 28.

Eliseeva SI, Knowlden ZA, Lester GM, Dean DA, Georas SN, Chapman TJ. "Changes in lung immune cell infiltrates after electric field treatment in mice." Scientific reports.. 2021 Jan 14; 11(1):1453. Epub 2021 Jan 14.

Welch JJ, Dean DA, Nilsson BL. "Synthesis and Application of Peptide-siRNA Nanoparticles from Disulfide-Constrained Cyclic Amphipathic Peptides for the Functional Delivery of Therapeutic Oligonucleotides to the Lung." Methods in molecular biology.. 2021 2208:49-67.

Books & Chapters

Chapter Title: Extracellular and Intracellular Barriers to Non-Viral Gene Transfer
Book Title: Novel Gene Therapy Approaches
Author List: Gottfried, L., and D. A. Dean
Edited By: M. Wei and D. Good
Published By: Intech Press 2013 in Rijecka, Croatia

Chapter Title: Electroporation-mediated Gene Delivery to the Lungs
Book Title: Electroporation Protocols: Experimental and Clinical Medicine
Author List: Young, J. L., M. Barravecchia, and D. A. Dean
Edited By: S. Li
Published By: Humana Press 2013 in Totowa, NJ

Chapter Title: Nonviral gene delivery
Book Title: Optical Imaging Techniques: A Laboratory Manua
Author List: Dean, D. A., and J. Z. Gasiorowski
Edited By: R. Yuste, F. Lanni, and A. Konnerth
Published By: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press 2010 in Cold Spring Harbor, NY