Globally, it is estimated that between 15-20% of all
cancers are associated with oncogenic viruses. These
include EBV, KSHV, HPV, HCV, HBV, MCV and HTLV. 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.
Specific projects are listed as follows:
-We study 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
-We study host-pathogen interactions. Specifically,
we are looking at how the virus interacts with the
innate immune system.
-Our lab studies viral transcription factors and how
they help the virus to replicate and persist in the host
-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.
-Finally, we are using our knowledge on viral cancers to
understand how certain types of non-viral cancers
develop in the human population.
In summary, our lab
is interested in the study of viral oncogenes, viral
transcription factors, host-pathogen interactions, and
innate immunity. 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
We also direct a
Program in Global Oncology through the Lineberger
Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC-Chapel Hill to
address the growing disparity in cancer incidence and
prognosis across the world, especially in developing
Please visit the following website for more information
on our global oncology program:
Please contact us if
you are interested in our research