Boshamer Distinguished Professor
Co-Leader, UNC Lineberger Virology Research Program
Vice Dean for Research, School of Medicine
Virology & Global Oncology
Area of Interest
Globally, it is estimated that between 15-20 percent of all cancers are associated with oncogenic viruses. These include EBV, KSHV, HPV, HCV, HBV, MCV and HTLV-1. The work in our laboratory is focused on understanding the molecular pathogenesis of different oncogenic viruses. We study several oncogenic human viruses including, but not limited to, Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV).
KSHV is associated with a number of human malignancies including Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) and B-cell lymphoproliferative diseases such as multicentric Castleman’s disease and non-Hodgkin lymphoma i.e. primary effusion lymphoma. Malignancies associated with KSHV are usually (but not always) seen in the context of immune-suppression i.e. in HIV-infected individuals and transplant patients. Both Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and KSHV are gammaherpesviruses. Herpesviruses are characterized by their ability to persist in either a latent or lytic phase in the host. In latent infection, viral gene expression is limited and the viral genome remains associated with the cell for many generations without virus production. However, during the lytic phase there is a temporal order of viral gene expression resulting in the production of infectious viral progeny. The specific mechanisms as to how these viruses induce cellular transformation are under investigation and our lab is focused on understanding how the virus transforms cells and persists in them.
We also study basic cellular and viral mechanisms that determine how these viruses are able to maintain the latent and lytic phases of its lifecycle. Hence, the work in our lab spans the fields of infectious disease, cancer biology and immunology.
Please visit our lab website www.damania.org
Awards and Honors
- Hyman L. Battle Distinguished Cancer Research Award, 2021
- Award for Excellence in Basic Science Mentoring, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2020
- Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2020
- Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2018
- Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), 2017
- Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professorship, UNC-Chapel Hill, 2015
- Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology, USA, 2013
- Kavli Scholar, National Academy of Sciences, USA, 2011
- Dolph O. Adams Award, Society for Leukocyte Biology, 2011
- Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Scholarly and Artistic Achievement, 2008
- Burroughs Wellcome Fund Investigator in Infectious Disease, 2006-2011
- American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, 2006-2011
- Jefferson Pilot Award in Faculty Medicine, 2005
- Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar, 2005-2010
- AACR-Gertrude Elion Scholar Award, 2004
- American Herpes Foundation Research Scholar Award, 2003
- V Foundation Scholar Award, 2001
News and Stories
What started as a shared passion for science grew into love for UNC Lineberger virologists Blossom Damania, PhD, and Dirk Dittmer, PhD, whose bond is continually strengthened through their commitment to research.
Scientists pinpoint protein that helps cancer-causing viruses evade immune response
A study led by researchers in the lab of Blossom Damania, PhD, shows how Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus and Epstein-Barr virus evade innate immune detection to spread undeterred.
Damania and Dittmer honored with Battle Distinguished Cancer Research Award
Blossom Damania, PhD, and Dirk Dittmer, PhD, are being recognized individually for their expertise in cancer virology and global oncology, and their service to the university and state.
Expertscape recognizes UNC Lineberger faculty as top-rated experts in their fields
Expertscape rated 12 UNC Lineberger faculty members as top-rated experts in their fields for its 2021 rankings.