Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Arntzen, Charles J.
Location Arizona State University
Primary Field Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences
Secondary Field Plant Biology
 Election Citation
Not available
 Research Interests
Dr. Arntzen's career began with studies of photosynthetic membrane structure and mechanisms of photosynthetic quantum efficiency regulation. While at the Univ. of Illinois he began to collaborate with experts in weed science; this led to pioneering studies on how chloroplast membrane protein mutations could result in herbicide resistance. Subsequently, while a director of research in Dupont's Central Research program, he championed the emergence of agricultural biotechnology for plant genetic engineering. These activities were initially directed at traits of primary importance to production agriculture and included insect, virus and herbicide resistance. Farmers rapidly adopted seeds from multiple companies, including Dupont/Pioneer. As genetic modification of plants evolved further, consumer-focused outcomes resulted in modified oil crops and other food composition products. While these were being developed, Arntzen once again took a new research direction by showing that plants could be genetically modified to biomanufacture proteins that would serve as subunit vaccines. Demonstration that simple eating of vaccine containing plant tissue led to the concept of low-cost oral vaccines of particular value to developing countries. For the last two decades Arntzen has been the spokesperson for emergence of the importance of plant-made protein drugs. He initiated studies using plants to produce vaccines and therapeutics for protection from biowarfare threat agents. The most successful of these has been a monoclonal antibody cocktail that is the leading therapeutic for treatment of Ebola. At present, Arntzen is primarily involved in science policy issues, and in providing support to scientists active in bench research, especially in plant-made pharmaceuticals.

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