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News Archive


February 6, 2012

CONTACT: Richard Cushman richard.cushman@tuhs.temple.edu



Walter J. Koch, PhDWalter J. Koch, PhD, has been named Professor of Pharmacology at Temple University School of Medicine and Director of Temple’s newly established Center for Translational Medicine, effective January 30, 2012. Prior thereto, he served as the W.W Smith Professor of Medicine, Director of the Center for Translational Medicine and the Vice Chair of Research at Jefferson Medical College.


“Dr. Koch is ideally suited to lead Temple’s commitment to translational medicine, which is poised to play a major role in the future of healthcare research and development,” said Larry R. Kaiser, MD, FACS, Senior Executive Vice President for Health Sciences of Temple University, Dean of Temple University School of Medicine, and President and CEO of Temple University Health System, in announcing his appointment. “Under Dr. Koch’s leadership, targeted therapeutics, personalized medicine and gene therapy are just some of the areas that Temple’s new Center for Translational Medicine will be well-positioned to take advantage of over the long-term.”


Koch will be responsible for leading the development of Temple’s collaborative research strategy – bridging the barriers between clinical and basic research – by fostering cooperation between investigators while also addressing the various complexities inherit to linking basic research with clinical research in humans. Koch and his team of six faculty researchers will focus initially on six areas: gene therapy, integrative cardiac biology including heart failure, genomics, molecular signaling dynamics, stem cell biology and cardiac regeneration and clinical cardiovascular research.


As principal investigator and project leader of several multimillion dollar NIH grants, Koch has overseen numerous advances in cardiac research over the last two decades. His team's work has helped reveal the novel roles G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) play in cardiac injury and repair. Manipulating these GRKs, and targeting them with therapeutics, could lead to new treatments for heart failure patients. In fact, inhibition of one GRK, GRK2, in the heart has led to the reversal of heart failure. This has been shown to occur by using a gene therapy approach in pre-clinical studies in both small and larger animal models and this methodology is one step away from human clinical trials.


“We are excited to have such a world-renowned researcher join the Temple team,” said Arthur M. Feldman, MD, PhD, Executive Dean of Temple University School of Medicine and Chief Academic Officer of Temple University Health System. “His appointment immediately elevates the output and impact of Temple’s research efforts --which will only continue to grow under Dr. Koch’s direction.


Koch earned his PhD in Pharmacology and Cell Biophysics from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1990. He then completed a Research Fellowship at Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Duke University Medical Center. While at Duke, Koch advanced to a tenured Professor of Surgery before coming to Philadelphia in 2003.


Numerous awards and honors have recognized Koch’s research, including the International Society for Heart Research 2011 Outstanding Investigator Award, the American Heart Association Thomas Smith Memorial Lecture and Award for Cardiovascular Signaling in 2009, and a National Institutes of Health 10-year MERIT award running through 2019.


He is an author or co-author on over 250 peer-reviewed research articles. He is a member of several professional societies, including the Heart Failure Society of America, American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, International Society for Heart Research, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the American Heart Association.


In addition, Koch is the incoming Chair of the Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Council of the American Heart Association, where he is an Associate Editor of the journal, Circulation Research.


Inaugural faculty members of Temple’s Center for Translational Medicine under Koch’s leadership will include: Joseph Yay-sing Cheung, MD, PhD; Thomas L. Force, MD; Erhe Gao, MD, PhD; Kazi Nazrul Islam, PhD; Joseph E. Rabinowitz, PhD; and Douglas G. Tilley, PhD.