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Division of Intramural Research (DIR)

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Office of the Director

Director's Profile

Kathryn C. Zoon, Ph.D.

Kathryn C. Zoon, Ph.D.
Dr. Kathryn C. Zoon

Kathryn C. Zoon, Ph.D., serves as Director of the Division of Intramural Research (DIR) at NIAID. Dr. Zoon provides overall executive direction and scientific leadership for the division’s basic and clinical research activities, which cover a wide range of biomedical disciplines related to infectious diseases, immunology, and allergy.

The ultimate goal of the division’s research is to contribute to the development of therapies, diagnostics, and vaccines that improve human health. Toward this goal, DIR does the following:

  • Expand knowledge of normal immune system components and functions
  • Define mechanisms responsible for abnormal immune function (e.g., immunodeficiency, allergy, and autoimmunity)
  • Understand the biology of infectious agents (e.g., viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites) and the host response to infection
  • Develop strategies to prevent, diagnose, and treat immunologic, allergic, and infectious diseases

Under Dr. Zoon’s leadership, DIR has enhanced its strong clinical research component, which is integral to rapidly translating key lab discoveries into methods to prevent, diagnose, or treat disease. DIR researchers currently conduct more than 100 clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center and at collaborating domestic and international sites. Dr. Zoon also serves as the chief of the DIR Cytokine Biology Section, which conducts research on the structure and function of human interferon alphas.

Dr. Zoon graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from The Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Zoon was appointed director of DIR in 2006. Prior to her appointment, she served as acting director of DIR and deputy director for DIR planning and development. Before joining NIAID, Dr. Zoon served as principal deputy director of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute. Before arriving at NIH, Dr. Zoon led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. During her tenure at FDA, hundreds of biological products, including vaccines, were licensed, and Dr. Zoon directed the research and review of cytokines, growth factors, and cellular products.

Dr. Zoon serves as an associate editor of the Journal of Interferon Research and has authored more than 100 scientific papers. She was president of the International Society for Interferon and Cytokine Research from 2000 to 2001, was the first vice president of the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences from 1999 to 2003, and is currently the federal liaison to the Board of the International Association of Biologicals. Dr. Zoon also serves on the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Biological Standardization, the Malaria Vaccine Initiative Vaccine Science Portfolio Advisory Council, the U.S. Department of Defense Malaria Vaccine Program Scientific Advisory Board, and the U.S. Agency for International Development Vaccine Development Scientific Consultants Group. The recipient of numerous awards, Dr. Zoon was named a member of the Institute of Medicine in 2002.

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Last Updated December 02, 2011

Last Reviewed January 14, 2011