Blossom Damania, PhD, vice dean for research at the UNC School of Medicine, was the only member of the UNC-Chapel Hill community selected as one of 276 new members to the oldest honorary society in the United States.


Blossom Damania, Ph.D., vice dean for research and the Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at the UNC School of Medicine, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an honorary society founded in 1780 to recognize and celebrate artistic and scientific excellence and to convene researchers from various areas, professions and perspectives.

Recognized as one of the world’s leading virology researchers and academic leaders, Damania has focused her scientific career on the pathogenesis of viruses involved in cancer. Her achievements include more than 140 peer-reviewed articles in major science journals.

Among her scientific breakthroughs was discovering in great detail how viral proteins encoded by human oncogenic viruses take over a normal, healthy cell’s machinery to transform it into a cancer cell.

“I’m incredibly honored and humbled by this recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,” said Damania, who has been a faculty member at the UNC School of Medicine since 2000. “I’m so thankful for the incredible support I’ve received over many years from mentors, colleagues, students, and staff at UNC-Chapel Hill and around the world. I am especially most grateful to all my trainees throughout the years. Without them, this would not have been possible.”

Damania, a member of the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center where she co-leads the UNC Global Oncology Program, has been awarded a number of honors, including being a Kavli Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, an American Association for Cancer Research Gertrude B. Elion Research Scholar, a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar, a Burroughs Wellcome Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease, a V Foundation for Cancer Research Scholar, a Dolph O. Adams awardee of the Society for Leukocyte Biology, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Damania also received a 2005 Jefferson-Pilot Award and the 2008 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement. In 2014 she was named assistant vice dean for research, and in 2016 she was named vice dean for research at the school of medicine.

In 2018, she spearheaded the initiation of the UNC Program for Precision Medicine in Healthcare and the Computational Medicine program that brings together multidisciplinary teams of researchers to address complex health issues. She has also initiated other programs in the School of Medicine including the Physician Scientists Training Program created to recruit and retain the most promising physician-scientists at UNC.

Under her leadership, Damania has helped bolster UNC School of Medicine graduate education, has led many research initiatives, and strengthened basic science and clinical research endeavors at the school of medicine, at the UNC Medical Center, and across the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

Learn more about Blossom Damania’s path as a researcher and leader in this UNC School of Medicine Q & A.

Read more about the 2020 inductees from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.