Scott Dessain

Headshot of Scott Dessain

Resident Faculty


Research interests include generating native human monoclonal antibodies for use in the treatment of infectious diseases, cancer and neurological illness. Also building a new research program in myelodysplastic syndromes and acute leukemia.


  • 2017-Present: Professor and Joseph and Ray Gordon Chair in Clinical Oncology and Research, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
  • 2007-2017: Associate Professor, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
  • 2007-Present: Director, Center for Human Antibody Technology (CHAT) at LIMR
  • 2007-Present: Attending Physician, Lankenau Medical Center

Researcher video

Scott Dessain, MD, PhD, recently discussed his groundbreaking research in human antibody technology at LIMR.

Research descriptions

Research Interests

  • Creating a new drug to treat serious blood infections and their antibiotic-resistant biofilms;
  • Studying a new immunotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia and pancreatic cancer;
  • Developing methods for rapid response development of anti-viral drugs for epidemic viral illness.

The immune system provides constant surveillance to protect against infectious diseases, toxin exposures, and cancers. Part of the immune response is in the form of antibodies that are produced by B-cells. Through highly specific interactions, antibodies can neutralize infectious entities and possibly help combat tumor cells. Many technologies exist to clone human antibodies. The Dessain group's primary interest is in “native” human antibodies, those cloned and expressed in exactly the configuration created by the intact human immune system. Native human antibodies have the potential advantages of high affinity, minimal off-target binding, safety, and effectiveness.

The Dessain group has developed a highly effective method to clone native human antibodies, using only small amounts of blood that can be obtained by a normal blood draw from volunteers. In their method, they isolate B-cells from peripheral blood and convert them to hybrid cells that can be grown in culture, each expressing a single, unique antibody. Similar methods have been developed by others, but the Dessain group's method is very effective because of a unique fusion cell line that allows the high efficiency creation of stable hybrid cells, combined with a unique B-cell selection/expansion step. Thus far, they have produced antibodies reactive with botulinum neurotoxin, which can be used to treat food poisoning or counteract an act of bio-terrorism. They are also creating antibodies that may be potent therapeutics for other infectious diseases, neurological disease and cancer. For more on Dr. Dessain's research view the cover story in the Spring-Summer 2018 edition of Catalyst magazine.

Many laboratories have limited ability to generate their own human antibodies. In order to collaborate in cloning human antibodies with other investigators, the Dessain group has established the LIMR-Center For Human Antibody Technology. The LIMR-CHAT currently has collaborations underway with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson University, the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Salus University, Temple University, and Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. They are actively seeking additional academic collaborations. The human monoclonal antibody technology has been licensed to a start-up company, Immunome, Inc., which can provide antibody cloning services on a commercial basis to industrial customers and/or collaborators.

The Dessain lab also developed a novel technology, called On-Cell mAb Screening (OCMS™), that enables rapid identification and isolation of B cells that secrete antibodies with desired characteristics that can be challenging or impossible to obtain by existing methods. OCMS captures and displays antibodies secreted by hybridoma cells. The technology enables fluorescent on-cell screening, making the sought-after monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) easily identifiable. Once identified, the mAbs then can be analyzed for expression level, binding activity and other characteristics. OCMS has been licensed to OCMS Bio, LLC, a biotech startup company that will commercialize and further develop the technology.



  • Preserving the Promise: Improving the Culture of Biotech Investment. Dessain SK, Fishman S. Academic Press; 2016.

Journal articles

  • Memory loss and aberrant neurogenesis in mice exposed to patient anti-N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor antibodies. Taraschenko O, Fox HS, … Al-Saleem F, Dessain S, et al. Exp Neurol. 2024 May 25:114838. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2024.114838
  • MyD88-mediated signaling is critical for the generation of seizure responses and cognitive impairment in a model of anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor encephalitis. Taraschenko O, Fox HS, …Al-Saleem F, Dessain S, et al. Epilepsia. 2024 May;65(5):1475-1487. doi: 10.1111/epi.17931.
  • Recombinant neutralizing secretory IgA antibodies for preventing mucosal acquisition and transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Göritzer K, Groppelli E, … Dessain S, et al. Mol Ther. 2024 Jan 23:S1525-0016(24)00025-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2024.01.025
  • A human monoclonal antibody binds within the poliovirus receptor-binding site to neutralize all three serotypes. Charnesky AJ, Faust JE, … Puligedda RD, … Dessain S, et al. Nat Commun. 2023 Oct 10;14(1):6335. doi: 10.1038/s41467-023-41052-9
  • Impact of Simultaneous Circulating Tumor DNA and Tissue Genotyping in the Workup of Stage IV Lung Adenocarcinoma on Quality of Care in an Academic Community Medical Center. Maity AP, Gangireddy M, … Al-Saleem FH, … Dessain SK, Evans TL. JCO Oncol Pract. 2023 Aug;19(8):620-625.
  • Regulation of NMDA Receptor Signaling at Single Synapses by Human Anti-NMDA Receptor Antibodies. Dean CA, Metzbower SR, Dessain SK, et al. Front Mol Neurosci. 2022 Jul 28;15:940005. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2022.940005
  • Monoclonal Antibodies From Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis Patient as a Tool to Study Autoimmune Seizures. Taraschenko O, Fox HS, … Al-Saleem F, Kattala CD, Dessain SK, et al. Front. Neurosci. 2021;15. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2021.710650
  • Seizures and memory impairment induced by patient-derived anti-N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antibodies in mice are attenuated by anakinra, an interleukin-1 receptor antagonist. Taraschenko O, Fox HS, Al-Saleem F, Kattala CD, … Dessain SK, et al. Epilepsia. 2021 Mar;62(3):671-682.
  • Salmonella Typhimurium biofilm disruption by a human antibody that binds a pan-amyloid epitope on curli. Tursi SA, Puligedda RD, … Dessain SK, et al. Nat Commun. 2020 Feb 21;11(1):1007.
  • Human IgA monoclonal antibodies that neutralize poliovirus produced by hybridomas and recombinant expression. Puligedda RD, Kattala CD, Al-Saleem FH, Dessain SK, et al. Antibodies 2020, 9(1), 5.
  • Universal ELISA for quantification of D-antigen in inactivated poliovirus vaccines. Kouiavskaia D, Devudu Puligedda R, Dessain SK, Chumakov K. J Virol Methods. 2019 Nov 22:113785.
  • Capture and display of antibodies secreted by hybridoma cells enables fluorescent on-cell screening. Puligedda RD, Sharma R, Al-Saleem FH, Kouiavskaia D, Velu AB, Kattala CD, Prendergast GC, Lynch DR, Chumakov K, Dessain SK. MAbs. 2019 Feb 22:1-13.
  • Palliative Care in Lung Cancer: When to Start. Bhattacharya P, Dessain SK, Evans TL. Curr Oncol Rep. 2018 Nov 9;20(11):90. Review.
  • Membrane-bound and soluble forms of an NMDA receptor extracellular domain retain epitopes targeted in auto-immune encephalitis. Sharma R, Al-Saleem FH, Puligedda RD, Rattelle A, Lynch DR, Dessain SK. BMC Biotechnol. 2018 Jun 27;18(1):41.
  • Monoclonal antibodies from a patient with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Sharma R, Al-Saleem FH, Panzer J, ... Cox RH, Dessain SK. Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. 2018 Jul 5.
  • RBC Adherence of Immune Complexes Containing Botulinum Toxin Improves Neutralization and Macrophage Uptake. Al-Saleem FH, Sharma R, Puligedda RD, Elias M, Kattala CD, Simon PM, Simpson LL, Dessain SK. Toxins. 2017 May 19;9(5). pii: E173.
  • Characterization of human monoclonal antibodies that neutralize multiple poliovirus serotypes. Puligedda RD, Kouiavskaia D, Al-Saleem FH, Dessain SK, et al. Vaccine. 2017 Mar 23.
  • Human monoclonal antibodies that neutralize vaccine and wild-type poliovirus strains. Puligedda RD, Kouiavskaia D, Adekar SP, Sharma R, Devi C, Rezapkin G, Bidzhieva B, Dessain SK, Chumakov K. Antiviral Res. 2014. 108C:36-43.
  • Mechanisms of enhanced Neutralization of Botulinum Neurotoxin by Monoclonal Antibodies Conjugated to Antibodies Specific for the Erythrocyte to Complement Receptor. Sharma R, Zhao H, Al-Saleem FH, Ubaid AS, Puligedda RD, Segan AT, Lindorfer MA, Bermudez R, Elias Md, Adekar SP, Simpson LL, Taylor RP, and Dessain SK. Mol Immunol. 2014. 57(2):247-254.
  • A novel site-II directed glycoprotein estimation ELISA to aid rabies vaccine manufacture for veterinary and human use. Abhinay G, Dessain S, Srikanth A, Senthilkumar RL, Vidyasagar P, Praveen A, Chandrasekhar Reddy RV, Swapna Reddy E, Rajendra L. Vaccine. 2014. 32(2):209-13.

Education and training


  • BA, Biochemistry
    Brown University
  • MD, Biology
    Yale University
  • PhD, Biology
    Yale University
  • Internal Medicine, Internship
    Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Internal Medicine, Residency
    Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Fellowship, Medical Oncology
    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship
    Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

Academic titles

  • 2017-Present: Professor and Joseph and Ray Gordon Chair in Clinical Oncology and Research, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
  • 2007-2017: Associate Professor, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research
  • 2007-Present: Director, Center for Human Antibody Technology (CHAT) at LIMR
  • 2007-Present: Attending Physician, Lankenau Medical Center