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Joseph S. Pagano, MD, has been awarded the fifth annual Hyman L. Battle Distinguished Cancer Research Award in recognition of his accomplishments in cancer research. Dr. Pagano is the director emeritus of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

William Roper, MD, MPH, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine and CEO, UNC Health Care, said, “The Battle Award is a fitting recognition of Dr. Pagano’s tremendous legacy at UNC and ongoing work as a scholar, mentor and scientific pioneer in cancer research.”

Founder of the Lineberger Cancer Center, Dr. Pagano has almost 50 years of continuous National Institutes of Health research funding for his lab and has served as principal investigator of the longest-running National Cancer Institute postdoctoral fellowship training program in the United States.

Stuart Bondurant, MD, Dean Emeritus of the UNC School of Medicine remarked, “Joe Pagano’s vision set the stage and his magnetic intellect, his pristine standards, his unexcelled commitment to further cancer research, science, the University and the careers of his colleagues have defined the genome of this Center.”

He is an internationally renowned virologist who was among the first to uncover molecular links between viruses and cancer. After the discovery of the Epstein Barr Virus’ (EBV) role in Burkitt lymphoma, a disease common in African Children, Dr. Pagano used innovative techniques to show how the virus persists not only in Burkitt lymphoma, but also in nasopharyngeal carcinoma, common in South China and in émigré populations elsewhere in the world.

Dr. Pagano’s lab is currently studying how EBV can cause B-cell lymphomas in immunosuppressed organ transplant recipients in collaboration with Lishan Su’s laboratory. The team is using an innovative model to determine if a novel combination of antiviral and anti-tumor drugs might prevent or slow development of lethal EBV lymphomas.

The Battle Distinguished Cancer Research Award was presented to Dr. Pagano at the 36th annual Lineberger Research Symposium. The award established in 2007 by the Battle Foundation of Rocky Mount, recognizes exceptional cancer research at the UNC School of Medicine and comes with a $25,000 prize. The Battle award fund is a permanent endowment held by The Medical Foundation of North Carolina, Inc.