Approximately 20-25% of all cancers result from infectious agents, with the majority of these malignancies being virus-associated cancers. The Virology Program focuses on deciphering the basic mechanisms related to how human tumor viruses are linked to the development of malignancies with the goal of generating new specific therapies for cancer and for vaccines against these viruses. There are five programmatic themes in the Virology Program. These include (i) Viruses and Immunity (ii) Virus-Cell Interactions (iii) Viral Pathogenesis and Tumorigenesis (iv) AIDS-associated cancers and (v) Clinical & Translational Virology. These themes address the effects of viral infection on innate immunity and inflammation and the mechanisms by which viruses promote tumorigenesis with the ultimate goal being to develop new therapies for treating viral cancers and vaccines against oncogenic viruses. Some discoveries include the finding that virus-infected cells secrete exosomes which modulate the tumor environment, that viral-encoded microRNAs contribute to the development of neoplasms, that oncogenic viruses can blunt innate immune recognition by the host cell, and that new therapies for AIDS-associated cancers targeting cell signaling pathways are efficacious. The program is jointly led by Nancy Raab-Traub, PhD, Sarah Graham Kenan Professor of Microbiology & Immunology who is world renowned for her work on Epstein-Barr virus and associated cancers, and Blossom Damania, PhD, Assistant Dean of Research and Professor of Microbiology & Immunology, whose expertise on innate immunity and oncogenic viruses is well recognized. There are 19 program members from 6 different departments across campus. The Virology Program has recruited three new faculty since 2010: Cary Moody, Nat Moorman and Stan Lemon. During the last funding period, program members have published 343 cancer-related articles (24% collaborative). In 2014, our program members held 58 grants and $18.9M (total cost) in annual extramural funding, including 21 grants and $6M (total costs) from the NCI.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Center Core Grants (P30)
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Subcommittee I - Transistion to Independence (NCI)
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University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill
United States
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