Kathy H.Y. Shair, PhD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Kathy H.Y. Shair


Fax: 412-623-7715

1.8 Hillman Cancer Center

5117 Centre Avenue

Pittsburgh, PA 15213


PhD in Virology, University of Cambridge (U.K.)

Research Summary

Cancer is a complex disease with multiple etiologies including host, environmental and microbial factors.  It is estimated that more than 15% of all human cancers are associated with a viral infection.  My laboratory studies the oncogenic mechanisms of the -herpesvirus Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in epithelial and lymphoid malignances.  EBV is the first discovered human tumor virus.  Human infection is ubiquitous with nearly 200,000 EBV-associated new cancer cases per year worldwide.  These include immuno-competent (nasopharyngeal carcinoma, gastric carcinoma, Hodgkin lymphoma, Burkitt lymphoma) and immuno-suppressed (post-transplant and AIDs-associated lymphomas) cancers.  In the absence of a prophylactic vaccine, more than 95% of adults by 35-40 years of age are persistently infected.  The Shair lab studies how virus-host interactions alter the infection outcome and biology of the infected cell, and how viral modulation of DNA repair mechanisms could be a risk-factor.  Using cell-based and polarized 3D epithelial culture models, we use molecular virology to elucidate the oncogenic mechanisms of nasopharyngeal carcinoma.  We also utilize mouse models and clinical specimens to determine biological significance, as well as for the discovery of cancer biomarkers.  By studying 1) EBV oncogenic mechanisms, 2) determinants of EBV pathogenesis and 3) biomarkers, we can begin to understand the molecular determinants of virus-associated cancers and ultimately guide us in developing effective therapeutic strategies.

Click here for a full listing of publications

Research Lab Affiliation


Ziegler P, Tian Y, Bai Y, Abrahamsson S, Backerholm A, Reznik AS, Green A, Moore JA, Lee SE, Myerburg MM, Park HJ, Tang KW and Shair KHY. 2021. A primary nasopharyngeal three-dimensional air-liquid interface cell culture model of the pseudostratified epithelium reveals differential donor- and cell type-specific susceptibility to Epstein-Barr virus infection. PLoS Pathog. 17: e1009041. |  View Abstract

Shair, KHY. 2020. mSphere of Influence: 3-D Culture Models Influence Studies on Epstein-Barr Virus Molecular Pathogenesis in the Epithelium. mSphere 5 (Epub ahead of print) |  View Abstract

Wasil LR, Shair KH. 2018. Modified Anoikis Assay That Functionally Segregates Epstein-Barr Virus LMP1 Strains into Two Groups. J Virol. 92: e00557-18. |  View Abstract

Shair KHY, Reddy A, Cooper VS. 2018. New insights from elucidating the role of LMP1 in nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Cancers. 10: pii: E86. |  View Abstract

Caves EA, Cook SA, Lee N, Stoltz D, Watkins S, Shair KH. 2018. Air-liquid interface method to study Epstein-Barr virus pathogenesis in nasopharyngeal carcinoma cells. mSphere 3: e00152-18. |  View Abstract