Damania of UNC receives Elion cancer research award


Dr. Blossom A. Damania
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CHAPEL HILL - Dr. Blossom A. Damania, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is this year's recipient of the Gertrude B. Elion Cancer Research Award, sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research.

She receives the award today (March 30) at the 2004 AACR Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. This marks the second year in a row that the award goes to a UNC researcher. Last year's Elion recipient was Dr. Yi Zhang, as was the 1999 winner, Dr. Yue Xiong.

Begun In 1993, the $50,000 award recognizes research excellence in cancer etiology, diagnosis, treatment, or prevention. It is presented annually to one non-tenured scientist at the level of assistant professor.

The award honors the late Dr. Gertrude B. Elion, Scientist Emeritus at Glaxo Wellcome Co. (now GlaxoSmithKline). Her seminal research revolutionized cancer therapy and her prolific contributions to biomedical science earned her the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1988.

Damania, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, was selected for the nationally competitive award for her research proposal in tumor virology entitled "The Role of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) in human malignancies." Damania tudies an oncogene of the virus named K1. Her research aims to decipher how this gene can transform cells to become malignancies. Damania has already performed groundbreaking work related to KSHV and has published more than 20 journal articles on the subject.

Damania earned her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. She joined the UNC faculty in October 2000 following a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University.

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