Rudy Beran Helps Push Boundaries of Viral Hepatitis Research, Guide Next Generation of Scientists

Gilead employee Rudy Beran, Senior Research Scientist II, Discovery Virology

Rudolf (Rudy) Beran

Senior Research Scientist II
Discovery Virology
Location: Foster City, CA
Joined Gilead: August 2009

Rudy Beran first worked with Gilead during his postdoctoral studies. He now drives innovative research that could lead to new therapies for hepatitis B and D, and as a founding mentor in Gilead’s Postdoctoral Fellowship program, helps guide early-career scientists. Find out what inspires him to continue pushing the boundaries of viral hepatitis research.

Q: What drew you to your field and how did you come to work at Gilead?

I have had a long-standing interest in studying microorganisms and viruses. As a biochemistry major at UC San Diego, I studied metabolism in marine phytoplankton. In my PhD studies at UCLA, I focused on post-transcriptional gene regulation in bacteria. Then as a post-doctoral fellow at Yale, I became interested in viruses and studied the replication of the hepatitis C virus (HCV), an experience that ultimately led me to Gilead.

At that time, Gilead was racing to find a cure for HCV and growing the Discovery Virology team. I was invited to give a scientific talk at Gilead on HCV before I considered applying. Gilead offered me a research grant to help fund my postdoctoral research, enabling me to expand my HCV research goals. After meeting Gilead’s HCV group, I knew I wanted to join the company. It was incredible to be part of a team and company that delivered four curative HCV therapies in less than four years.

Now, my work is focused on research that could lead to new therapies for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis delta virus (HDV). More than 300 million people in the world are believed to be living with HBV and it’s estimated that at least 12 million of those individuals also have HDV, a satellite virus of HBV. My team studies how HDV replicates to better understand how to inhibit it. We’re also researching the potential use of RNA therapies as part of our goal to develop a cure for both diseases. This work is critical for pushing forward our knowledge of the HBV and HDV life cycles and helping us to identify new ways to inhibit these viruses.

Q: Which of your research discoveries are you most proud of, and what are the potential impacts of these discoveries?

The most memorable, impactful discoveries for me have been those related to deepening our understanding of HBV replication, which could one day help lead to improved treatments or a potential cure. I was tasked with developing a deeper understanding of the role of the hepatitis B X protein (HBx) in HBV replication. We thought that if we better understood how HBx promoted HBV replication, we could design a new inhibitor to stop HBV replication. We succeeded in greatly improving our understanding of HBx and continue to use that to pursue potential new therapies. It’s been particularly exciting and validating to see my work cited in research papers and other groups base their studies off our findings.

Q: What do the company’s efforts to prioritize inclusion and diversity mean to you?

Gilead’s inclusion and diversity efforts benefit the type of scientific expertise that we can build at the company. There are great scientists from all over the world working here. It’s because we attract a diversity of researchers with a variety of expertise and different ways of thinking that we’re able to maintain our cutting-edge science.

Q: How would you describe the opportunities for career growth at Gilead?

At Gilead, we have access to mentoring and training sessions, and our managers also take time to help their employees plan their future career path. Because of these resources, I’ve greatly improved my presentation, management and leadership skills. Before coming to Gilead I had virtually no formal training with these.

I’d add that working at Gilead is an example of a scientific career in industry that can be just as exciting as pursuing a career in academia. A lot of young scientists fear that an industry career will prevent them from performing interesting research, but at Gilead this hasn’t been my experience at all. Every day brings something different as we work to find new therapies and cures for viral hepatitis. This is one of the reasons I’m passionate about helping early-career scientists learn more about and prepare for working in industry positions. I’m excited to be a founding member of Gilead’s Postdoctoral Fellowship program and to have a role in shaping the program and mentoring up-and-coming scientists.

As a postdoc mentor, my goal is to train young researchers to ask questions that push the boundaries of our knowledge of HBV and HDV, then figure out ways to answer them. I aim to introduce early-career researchers to company team culture, enhance their presentation skills, develop their writing skills for publishing papers and teach them about the drug development process to help ensure they have successful careers.

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