Skip to main content

MD, Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill, Virology

Professor, Infectious Diseases, and Microbiology and Immunology
UNC-Chapel Hill

Area of Interest

I have a longstanding interest in the mechanisms by which hepatotropic positive-strand RNA viruses replicate in the liver and cause diseases ranging from acute inflammatory hepatitis to cancer. My laboratory at present focuses on two viruses that are classified within different virus families, hepatitis A virus (HAV, a picornavirus) and hepatitis C virus (HCV, a flavivirus). Our past research has elucidated the structure and function of the 5’ and 3’ untranslated RNAs of these viruses, and among other accomplishments has identified the existence of cis-acting RNA replication elements in picornaviruses, mapped the secondary structure and function of the internal ribosome entry sites (IRESs) of both HAV and HCV, and identified and characterized the unique host function of the microRNA, miR-122, in replication of HCV. Over the past two decades, my interests have evolved to include how these viral RNAs are recognized by host innate immune sensors, how HAV and HCV have evolved similar but also distinct mechanisms to evade antiviral defenses in the liver, and how these events influence inflammation and the development of immunity. More recently, we discovered that HAV is released noncytolytically from cells cloaked in host cell membranes, and circulates in the blood of infected humans in a quasi-enveloped form resistant to neutralizing anti-HAV antibodies. These seminal observations have blurred the classic distinctions between enveloped and non-enveloped viruses, thus challenging some basic, long held tenets of virology.

Find publications on PubMed

Awards and Honors

  • Elected into National Academy of Sciences, 2024
  • Sabin Lecturer, European Group for the Molecular Biology of Picornaviruses, 2018
  • Fellow, American Association for the Study of the Liver, 2014
  • John Enders Award in Medical Virology, Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA), 2009
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2007
  • Bruce Witte Annual Lecturer Hepatitis B Foundation, 2007
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2007
  • National Associate National Academy of Sciences, 2003
  • Commissioner’s Special Citation U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 1996
  • Kenan Research Leave, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1989-90
  • Fellow, Infectious Diseases Society of America, 1985
  • Meritorious Service Medal, U.S. Army Medical Research & Development Command, 1983

News and Stories

View all related posts

Headshot of Stanley Lemon.