BLOSSOM ANDREA DAMANIA, Ph.D.
B.A., Mount Holyoke College, MA. 1992.
Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, PA. 1998.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Medical School, MA.
Assistant Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, 2000-2006
Associate Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, 2006-2011
Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, 2011-present
Director, Program in Global Oncology, Lineberger Cancer Center, UNC-Chapel
Academy of Microbiology, 2013-present
2011 Kavli Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, USA
Society for Leukocyte Biology Dolph O. Adams award, 2011
UNC Ruth and Phillip Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly
Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in Infectious Disease, 2006-2011.
American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, 2006-2011.
UNC Jefferson-Pilot Award in Faculty Medicine, 2005
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar, 2005-2010.
Mount Holyoke College Mary Lyon Alumnae Award, 2005.
American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Gertrude B. Elion
Research Scholar, 2004.
American Herpes Foundation Research Scholar Award. 2003.
V Foundation for Cancer Research Scholar Award. 2001-2003.
2011-present Section Editor, PLoS
2009-2011 Associate Editor,
2010-present Associate Editor, Frontiers in
2008-present Contributing Faculty Member of
Faculty of 1000, Biology. Virology Section of the Microbiology
2005-2014 Editorial Board
Member for Journal of Virology
Board Member for Virology
2007-present Editorial Board member for The Open
2008-present Editorial Board member for Infection
and Drug Resistance
Permanent member of VIR-A study section (2009-2013)
The work in our laboratory is focused on understanding the
molecular pathogenesis of viral-associated cancers.
Approximately 20 percent of all human cancers
world-wide have a viral origin or require viral
infection as an essential cofactor.
Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (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. KSHV belongs to the gamma-2 (rhadinovirus)
grouping of herpesviruses. 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 mechanism by which KSHV induces cellular
transformation is currently unknown 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 KSHV is able to
maintain the latent and lytic phases of its lifecycle.
Specific projects are listed as follows:
•We study KSHV viral proteins that are involved in
cellular transformation and modulation of cell signaling
pathways. These studies involve investigating
the effect of viral proteins on cell proliferation, apoptosis
and cell signal transduction pathways.
•Kaposi’s sarcoma is a highly angiogenic tumor and we are
currently investigating how viral proteins encoded
by KSHV are responsible for the induction of
• Our lab studies viral transcription factors and how they
help the virus to replicate and persist in the
•We are developing therapeutics that curb viral
replication and prevent virus persistence. We are also
developing drug therapies that target cancer
cells. In this manner we hope to translate basic research
into clinical application.
•We study host-pathogen interactions, specifically
we are looking at how KSHV interacts with the
innate immune system.
•In addition, we work on the simian homologue of KSHV
named rhesus monkey rhadinovirus (RRV). RRV shows
high sequence-relatedness to KSHV but unlike
its human counterpart can be grown lytically and to high
titers in cell culture. This facilitates the making of
recombinant viruses that allow us to study the properties
of a number of viral genes in the lifecycle of
the virus. We use RRV as animal model system
to understand KSHV pathogenesis in vivo and in vitro.
•We are using our knowledge on viral cancers to understand
how certain types of non-viral cancers develop
in the human population.
•We have recently developed the UNC Global Oncology
program. This program's goal is to address disparities
in cancer incidence and death across the globe.
The program's mission currently includes clinical
sites in the United States, Brazil, Malawi, India, and China.
Please visit the following website for more information: http://www.unclineberger.org/global
In summary, our lab is interested in the study
of viral oncogenes and viral transcription factors,
host-pathogen interactions, innate immunity,
and animal model systems to study viral pathogenesis. The projects
in our laboratory encompass the areas of signal
transduction, apoptosis, angiogenesis, innate immunity,
transcription and recombinant herpesvirus production. We
employ the latest techniques in molecular biology,
cell biology, immunology and biochemistry to
investigate key issues in viral oncogenesis.
Please contact us if you are interested in
our research (firstname.lastname@example.org)