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Ben Deverman

Ben Deverman, Ph.D.

Ben Deverman is the director of the vector engineering research group at the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where he is also an institute scientist. The vector engineering team develops innovative gene delivery solutions for studying the central nervous system (CNS), with the aim of uncovering new avenues for treating psychiatric disorders. His group applies a variety of approaches including protein engineering, high-throughput in vivo selection and screening methods, and machine learning to develop novel AAV vectors that overcome pressing gene delivery challenges. In recent work, the Deverman team and collaborators found that the AAV-PHP.B family of capsids, which efficiently deliver genes throughout the mouse CNS, cross the blood-brain barrier by engaging a novel receptor on the vasculature, providing mechanistic insights that can be leveraged to engineer the next generation of AAV capsids for human CNS gene therapy. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Deverman lab built and maintains COVID-19 CG, an interactive, open access browser to help vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics developers and public health officials track SARS-CoV-2 mutations and lineages by location and time.

Deverman joined the Broad in March 2018. Before this, he was the director of the CLARITY, Optogenetics and Vector Engineering Research (CLOVER) Center within the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology. At Caltech, Deverman and colleagues identified numerous capsids, including AAV-PHP.B and an enhanced variant, AAV-PHP.eB, that made efficient brain-wide gene delivery in the adult possible for the first time. AAV-PHP.B and AAV-PHP.eB are now in use in laboratories around the world and are enabling a wide range of translational and basic neuroscience experiments. Deverman led the generation of the panel of AAV-PHP capsids by developing a novel AAV selection method, called Cre Recombinase-based Targeted Evolution (CREATE), that uses Cre transgenics to select for AAVs that transduce defined target cell types.

Deverman has nearly 14 years of experience as a molecular biologist studying neuroscience and AAV engineering. As a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist at the California Institute of Technology, Deverman’s research focused on viral vector development and the roles of cytokines during neurodevelopment and in the context of demyelinating disease. He received a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology from Washington University School of Medicine and a B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Detroit Mercy. In 2019 he received the Broad Institute Excellence Award in Mentorship, Teaching, and Training.

Contact Ben Deverman at bdeverma@broadinstitute.org.

March 2021