Ronald Crystal, MD

Ronald Crystal, MD is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Genetic Medicine at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where he is also the Bruce Webster Professor of Internal Medicine, Director of the Belfer Gene Therapy Core Facility and Attending Physician at the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. After earning degrees in physics from Tufts University and the University of Pennsylvania and an MD degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Crystal completed his post-graduate training in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and in Pulmonary Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. In 1970, Dr. Crystal joined the NIH, where he served as Chief of the Pulmonary Branch of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute until moving to Weill-Cornell in 1993. In the 1970s and ’80s, Dr. Crystal’s research focused on the pathogenesis and therapy of lung disorders. The work of his laboratory formed the basis of the current understanding of the pathogenesis of lung fibrosis and the hereditary form of emphysema associated with alpha 1-antitrypsin deficiency, a disease for which he developed the FDA-approved therapy now used to treat thousands of patients worldwide.

In the late 1980s, Dr. Crystal shifted his focus to gene therapy, a field in which he is a pioneer. He was the first to use a recombinant virus as a vehicle for in vivo gene therapy and has carried out human trials of gene therapy for cystic fibrosis, cardiac ischemia, cancer and central nervous system disorders. In addition to gene therapy, his laboratory has programs in deciphering how human genetic variation modulates gene expression in the context of environmental exposure and exploiting these relationships to recategorize human disease at the biologic level. Dr. Crystal has received numerous professional honors, he is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and serves on a number of advisory boards to government and industry. He has published over 900 scientific articles, and his work has been cited over 77,000 times in the scientific literature. He has edited several textbooks, is responsible for numerous biomedical patents, and is a founder of several biotechnology companies focused on developing gene therapy therapeutics.