Harald Messer, PhD, is the new ICBR Monoclonal Antibody Core Scientific Director
Harald Messer, PhD, is now leading the ICBR Monoclonal Antibody Core, which has been under Linda Green’s direction for 39 years.
Between his personal research experience and time within the private sector, Messer has built a strong background in antibody production.
His journey began in a 9th grade biology class, “I can clearly remember reading about ribosomes and protein synthesis, and it was absolutely fascinating. It just really caught my imagination,” Messer said.
Since then, Messer joined the Gator nation as an undergraduate and completed his bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell science. During this time, he gained an appreciation for the complexities of biology and a love for virology, he said.
In 1998, he began working for ELISA Technologies, Inc., a small startup company in Gainesville. “It was a complete 180,” Messer said, “I had been studying infectious diseases, and then I switched to working for a small company that studied antibodies.”
Messer worked within the four-person team for five years and discovered his love of learning about biological mechanisms. With encouragement from the directors at ELISA Technologies, Inc., he rejoined the gator nation to complete his master’s in the department of molecular genetics and microbiology.
Under the direction of Paul Gulig, PhD, Messer used phage displays to create antibody fragments to pathogenic organisms, particularly Listeria, a common foodborne pathogen.
“This was a project funded through the US. Department of Defense,” Messer said, “They were interested in real-time detection of pathogens that could be captured using antibodies.”
Messer worked as a lab manager within the department of molecular genetics and microbiology before continuing to complete his PhD with the department in 2009.
During this time, Messer received mentorship from David C. Bloom, PhD, for his work using chromatin immunoprecipitation, ChIP, to study how viruses could go latent within a neuron.
“If we could understand how the virus utilized the human cellular system to maintain latency, we could also understand how to develop therapeutics to maintain it in a latent state,” he said.
Messer is looking forward to bringing improvements to the Monoclonal Antibody Core including more cutting-edge technology, more easily available antibodies for sequencing, and a revitalized phage display group.
“I want the antibody core to be one of the first sources of technical information that research labs will come to for their questions,” Messer said.