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About Meir Shamay Lab

Our scientific question is how viruses promote cancer development


The research interests in the lab are to study the functional interactions between viral proteins and the cellular machinery, which control both the viral life cycle and tumorigenesis.  About 15% of the cancers in humans are associated with viral infections. The viruses we study are the human gamma herpes viruses, Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV, HHV-8), and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV, HHV-4), which are associated with an increasing number of human malignancies. EBV is a ubiquitous virus that infects over 90% of adults worldwide, including Israel. KSHV prevalence varies significantly depending on the geographic regions; in Israel, about 10% are infected. While in most infected individuals, these viruses do not lead to cancer development, under specific conditions such as suppression of the immune system, they promote cancer development. The goal of our lab is to expand our knowledge of viral infections and to utilize this knowledge for the development and use of drugs that specifically target virally infected cells.

We have a specific interest in understanding how these viruses modulate our epigenome. Epigenetic marks such as DNA methylation, histone modifications, and chromatin remodeling are important regulators of gene expression. Together with genetic alterations, epigenetic modifications are responsible for the development of many diseases, including cancer. We perform gene-specific and whole-genome DNA methylation analysis and combine these with whole transcriptome (RNA-seq) analysis to reveal the impact of viral infection on DNA methylation and gene expression.

Human endogenous viral elements (EVE) or transposable elements (TEs), as their name suggests, have the ability to transpose (jump) within their host genome. They are ubiquitous in eukaryotic genomes, occupying about 45% of the human genome. Our recent study revealed that KSHV infection dysregulates many transposable elements within the infected cells.

Examples of scientific questions we ask:

  1. What are the global epigenetic changes these viruses impose on infected cells during tumor development?


  1. Which epigenetic marks differentiate infected cells from infected cells that become cancerous? The results of these studies will help us to develop novel methods for the detection of viral-associated malignancies.


  1. How does an exogenous virus like KSHV modulate the expression of human endogenous viruses (transposable elements)?


  1. After reading the above, if you have a scientific question related to our study, let’s talk about your next project. 


2015 - Present

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Viral Oncology, Bar-Ilan University

At Meir Shamay Lab, we believe in fostering the next generation of researchers. We offer a challenging and supportive environment for graduate students to pursue their PhD in Viral Oncology. Our program combines rigorous coursework with hands-on research experience, giving students the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their careers.

2011 - 2015

Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Biology, Bar-Ilan University

Our lab also values undergraduate education. We offer research opportunities for students interested in pursuing a career in science. Our undergraduate researchers gain valuable experience in the lab and contribute to ongoing research projects.

2009 - 2011

High School Diploma, XYZ High School

We believe in inspiring future scientists from a young age. That's why we offer outreach programs to local high schools. Our researchers visit classrooms and provide hands-on activities to engage students in the exciting world of science.

Awards, Scholarships and Grants

    National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Grant
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