Institute for Drug Discovery

Institute Director


Pei-Yong Shi, PhD

Dr. Pei-Yong Shi is Director of the Institute for Drug Discovery (IDD), Associate Chief Research Officer, and Vice President for Research Innovation at UTMB. He currently holds the John Sealy Distinguished Chair in Innovations in Molecular Biology. He directs a mega NIH-funded Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Center: The UTMB-Novartis Alliance for Pandemic Preparedness (UNAPP).

Dr. Shi’s unique experience in public health laboratory (New York State Department of Health), pharmaceutical companies (Novartis and Bristol-Myers Squibb), and academia (UTMB and Yale) allows his research to focus on the basic and translational interface. He served as Executive Director at Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases for 7 years where he set up antiviral strategies and executed drug discovery. He contributed to the development of Fostemsavir (an approved HIV drug), a dengue NS4B inhibitor (currently at phase 1 clinical trials), and a novel COVID IgM antibody IGM-6268 (currently at phase 1 clinical trials). In response to the recent emergence of Zika virus and SARS-CoV-2, Dr. Shi’s team established the first reverse genetic systems for both viruses, developed a single-shot live-attenuated Zika vaccine candidate, and identified genetic changes that contribute to Zika epidemics and SARS-CoV-2 transmission and immune evasion. Many of his technologies have been licensed to industry for countermeasure development. One recent example is his reporter neutralization assay that has enabled the rapid development of Pfizer’s COVID vaccine, the first approved vaccine for human use.

Dr. Shi is an internationally recognized leader in virology, antiviral discovery, vaccine development, and diagnosis with more than 380 publications in prestigious scientific journals, including Nature, Science, Cell, and New England Journal of Medicine. He has received many awards and holds leadership positions in scientific societies and professional organizations, including the Board of Directors for the International Society for Antiviral Research, Pangborn Award, Novartis Diversity & Inclusion Award, and the Daily News Citizen of the Year 2022. Dr. Shi is also an elected fellow of the American Academy of Inventors in recognition of his contributions to vaccine and antiviral development, and a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology.

Dr. Shi's stature in the scientific community is also indicated by many invited presentations at international conferences. He also services on many national and international committees and study sections, as well as many editorial appointments including as editors and editorial board members for Journal of Virology, npj Vaccines, Antiviral Research, ACS Infectious Diseases, and Journal of General Virology.

Dr. Shi has mentored young scientists extensively. Many of his trainees have become professors in academia and scientists in government and industry. Dr. Shi earned his BS from Nanjing Normal University in China in 1989, his PhD in Molecular Virology from Georgia State University in 1996, and postdoc at Yale University from 1996 to 1998.