Joseph R. Kates obtained his PhD in Biochemical Sciences at Princeton University. At the age of 33 he was asked to be the founding Chairman of the Department of Microbiology in the School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, New York. Under his guidance, that Department soon became a world-class center for molecular virology.
His outstanding scientific contributions included the first demonstration that viruses code for and carry their own polymerases in the virus particle.
This influenced the discovery of reverse transcriptase in HIV by Temin and Baltimore.
His laboratory also discovered the existence of poly-A on messenger RNA, the timing and semiconservative mode of DNA replication during meiosis, the proof that centrioles in eukaryotic cells do not arise from pre-existing centrioles but are generated de novo.
After some years at Scripps Clinic, in La Jolla, as Chairman of the Department of Cellular Biology, he joined Bayer Pharmaceuticals as a Director of Research, where he was a major player in the development of recombinant Factor-VIII for the treatment of hemophilia as well as other biotechnology product candidates.
His position interacted directly with top Bayer management and he became proficient in the strategic and tactical aspects of drug development.
He then worked as a top manager at the National Cancer Institute, where his work there laid the foundation for the current designation of this site as Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. He has recently cofounded and serves as head of the Scientific Advisory Board of Kangti Biomedical, a company based in Singapore.