John A. Zaia MED’66
Career Achievement

Pediatrician and Virologist, City of Hope National Medical Center

Director, Center for Gene Therapy at City of Hope

Founding Director, Infectious Diseases Section, Department of Pediatrics, City of Hope

Director, City of Hope Alpha Stem Cell Clinic



Dr. John Zaia has made significant contributions throughout his 55-year career to the fields of virology and infectious diseases, especially concerning gene therapy for AIDS, vaccines, and immune globulin therapies for viral diseases. 

He has worked for 42 years at City of Hope National Medical Center as a pediatrician and virologist. Among his current leadership roles at City of Hope, he serves as the director of the Center for Gene Therapy within the Hematologic Malignancies and Stem Cell Transplantation Institute, as the founding director of the Infectious Diseases Section in the Department of Pediatrics, and as the director of the City of Hope Alpha Stem Cell Clinic. He also currently serves on a number of committees and boards, including the FDA Cellular, Tissue, and Gene Therapies Advisory Committee.

John has been a role model in conducting ethical, innovative, and safe human-subject research. In addition to contributing to scientific developments related to chickenpox and cytomegalovirus, he has focused on various aspects of fighting AIDS, including leading the development of RNA-based therapeutics and strategies to treat malignancies in HIV-infected patients as well as developing gene-modified CAR T-cells targeted against HIV. 

Dr. Zaia has contributed greatly to SARS-CoV2 treatments, including monoclonal antibody therapy. He also participated in the initiation of the first-in-human clinical trial of a synthetic MVA-based SARS-CoV2 vaccine.   

He has authored nearly 200 peer-reviewed publications, 32 book chapters and invited articles, and 185 scientific abstracts for national meetings. He holds 11 U.S. patents. In 1983, John co-authored a paper reporting City of Hope’s experience treating leukemia in first remission with allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; the paper inspired a number of institutions to establish their own programs.

Among his former leadership positions, Dr. Zaia served as the director of the National Cooperative Drug Discovery Group for AIDS and as the director of the Strategic Program for Innovative Research in AIDS Treatment, both at City of Hope. He also served as chair of the National Institutes of Health Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee.  

John earned a National Science Foundation Summer Fellowship at Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology and the Young Investigator Award from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He also has been featured in the City of Hope Scientific Research Portrait Gallery.

Dr. Zaia received his BMS at Dartmouth Medical School and went on to earn an MD from Harvard University. He completed his internship and residency at St. Louis Children's Hospital and Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston. He was a fellow in infectious diseases at Beth Israel Hospital and Children's Hospital Medical Center and a research fellow in infectious diseases at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.


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