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Pittsburgh Cancer Researchers Receive Award for Groundbreaking Virus Discoveries

PITTSBURGH, March 17, 2017 – University of Pittsburgh faculty members and University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) researchers, Yuan Chang, M.D., and Patrick S. Moore, M.D., are being recognized for their outstanding contributions to the advancement of medical science in the United States. The two will be presented with the 2017 Passano Foundation Laureate Award for their groundbreaking discoveries in human virology and oncology.
 
The Chang-Moore Laboratory at Pitt and UPMC CancerCenter is credited with discovering two of the seven known human viruses that directly cause cancer. They first discovered the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus, or human herpesvirus 8 (KSHV/HHV8) in 1994. The virus causes Kaposi’s sarcoma, the most common AIDS-related malignancy and one of the most frequently occurring cancers in Africa. Prior to this discovery, researchers had worked for nearly 15 years to find an infectious agent associated with Kaposi’s sarcoma. In 2008, the pair identified Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV) as the cause of Merkel cell carcinoma, one of the world’s most clinically aggressive skin cancers.
 
“The worldwide recognition among the scientific community is evidence of the tremendous and long-lasting impact that Drs. Moore and Chang have made in advancing our knowledge on the viral causes of some cancers,” said Edward Chu, M.D., interim director of UPCI. “We are proud and truly honored to have them as two of our most senior and most highly accomplished investigators.”
 
Chang and Moore work together and share a common laboratory. Their current research centers on viral oncogenesis with efforts specifically focused on KSHV, MCV and new pathogen discovery. They seek to use information from viral cancers to understand molecular causes for non-infectious cancers. Their pioneering work has garnered some of the highest national and international honors in medicine, infectious disease and cancer.
 
“Drs. Chang and Moore’s contributions to cancer research have been significant and lasting, touching the lives of people around the world,” said Arthur S. Levine, Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine. “The University community congratulates them and celebrates this well-deserved tribute to the pioneering work that has come to define their careers.”
 
Chang is an American Cancer Society Research Professor and a Distinguished Professor of Pathology in the Pitt School of Medicine. Moore serves as the director of the Cancer Virology Program at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. He is an American Cancer Society Research Professor, a Distinguished Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, and the Pittsburgh Foundation Chair in Innovative Cancer Research in the Pitt School of Medicine.
 
“Receiving these awards is gratifying,” said Chang. “We are proud to be in the company of leading scientists whom we respect greatly.”
 
“It is a tremendous honor, and we are grateful that our peers, both internationally and nationally, recognize the importance of viruses to causing human cancers,” added Moore.
 
The Passano Foundation’s award will be presented on March 27 in Baltimore. The two researchers will also travel to Frankfurt, Germany, this month when the Paul Ehrlich Foundation will present them with the prestigious 2017 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize.

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