Kenneth W. Culver
81MD

Young 1995

Kenneth W. Culver, 81MD, is recognized nationally and internationally for his pioneering work in the application of gene therapy to humans.

A Des Moines native, Culver completed his internship and residency at the University of California Department of Pediatrics in San Francisco, where he served as chief resident from 1984 to 1985. After completing a fellowship in pediatric immunology, Culver joined the National Institutes of Health in 1987 as a clinical associate, and in 1990 he was named senior clinical investigator at the National Cancer Institute. From July 1993 to February 1995, Culver served as executive director of the Human Gene Therapy Research Institute in Des Moines.

In September 1990, Culver and two other physicians at the National Institutes of Health performed the first government-approved gene therapy procedure. The experiment restored the immune system to near normal in a four-year-old girl with ADA deficiency, a form of the "bubble boy" disease that laves its victims severely susceptible to common viruses. Through gene therapy, Culver and his colleagues replaced defective genes in the patient's white blood cells with genetically engineered normal genes. The procedure set the stage for further research into a new field that may revolutionize medicine. Culver is currently working with Dr. J.C. Van Gilder at UI Hospitals and Clinics to develop ways that genes could be used to destroy brain tumors.

In addition to publishing more than 50 articles on various aspects of gene therapy, Culver has presented lectures to his peers across the world. He is president of the International Society for the Advancement of Biotechnology, editor-in-chief of the Gene Therapy Newsletter, and the author of Gene Therapy: A hand book for Physicians.

Culver and his wife, Cindy Alloway, 77BSN, are members of the UI Alumni Association. They have three children, Ryan, Ian, and Kathryn.