Professor David J. Blackbourn

Head of the School of Biosciences and Medicine
15 AX 01
Personal assistant: Elise Frost-Bridges
+44 (0)1483 686920

Academic and research departments

School of Biosciences and Medicine.



David J. Blackbourn is Professor and Head of the School of Biosciences and Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. His group studies viruses that are responsible for causing cancer. In particular, his interests lie in how such viruses cause disease, evade the immune response and interact with the DNA damage response.

Prof Blackbourn has published over 70 research papers and reviews in virology and immunology. He has received major grant funding from Cancer Research UK, The Wellcome Trust, the MRC, BBSRC and the Royal Society. He is a Fellow of the Society of Biology (FSB).

1/8/2013 Head of Department of Microbial and Cellular Sciences, University of Surrey

1/8/2013 Honorary Senior Research Fellow, School of Cancer Sciences, University of Birmingham

1/10/2010 Professor of Virology, University of Birmingham

1/8/2005 Reader in Tumour Virology, University of Birmingham

2005-2005 Reader in Virology, Institute of Virology, University of Glasgow

2003-2005 Senior lecturer in Virology, Institute of Virology, University of Glasgow

1999-2003 Lecturer in Virology, Institute of Virology, University of Glasgow

1997-1999 Staff Scientist Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco USA

1993-1997 Post-doctoral researcher, Jay A. Levy, M.D., Dept Medicine, University of California, San Francisco

1990-1992 Post-doctoral researcher, Ronald Chuang, PhD., Dept Med Pharmacol and Toxicol, University of California, Davis

Research interests

Infectious agents, including viruses, are associated with up to 20% of human cancers. The Blackbourn laboratory studies two such viruses: Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) and Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCV or MCPyV).

Our major interest is in how viruses cause disease and modulate the immune response. KSHV provides a model for most of our studies, but the impact of our work could extend to other viruses or host/pathogen interactions. Our main research topics in this context are: (i) how KSHV interacts with the DNA damage response. (ii) How KSHV modulates the type I interferon (alpha & beta) response. (iii) How KSHV deregulates antigen-specifc T cell responses. (iii) What are the consequences of KSHV infection on endothelial cell biology, including cell-cell interactions and regulating leukocyte recruitment.

For MCV, our interests lie in understanding the tumour microenvironment and how it contributes to the pathogenesis of Merkel cell carcinoma.

Research collaborations

Prof Blackbourn collaborates with colleagues throughout the world, including:

Dr Roger Grand, University of Birmingham

Dr Andrew Hislop, University of Birmingham

Professor Christian Munz, University of Zurich

Dr Mohamed Mutocheluh, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana

Dr Neil Steven, University of Birmingham

Professor Rolf Renne, University of Florida

Blackbourn Laboratory Methods

My publications


Publications from the last five years:

McKimmie, C.S., M.D. Singh, K. Hewit, O. Franco-Lopez, M. Le Broq, S. Rose-John, A.H. Baker, R. Wheat, D.J. Blackbourn, R.J.B. Nibbs and G.J. Graham. An analysis of the function and expression of D6 on lymphatic endothelial cells. Blood, 121: 3768-3777. 2013

Jacobs, S.R., S.M. Gregory, J.A. West, A.C. Wollish, D.J. Blackbourn, M.T. Heise and B. Damania. The KSHV vIRFs inhibit interferon activation mediated by TLR3. J. Virol. 87: 798-806, 2013.

Damania, B and D.J. Blackbourn. Innate Barriers to Viral Infection. Future Microbiology 7:815-822, 2012. Butler, L.M., H.C. Jeffery, R.L. Wheat RL, P.C. Rae, H.M. Long, G.B. Nash & D.J. Blackbourn. KSHV inhibits expression and function of endothelial cell MHC class II via suppressor of cytokine signalling 3. J.Virol. 86: 7158-7166, 2012.

Misstear, K., S.A. Chanas, S.A.R. Rezaee, R. Colman, A.S. Solovyova, L.L. Quinn, H.M. Long, J.M. Lord, J.A. Gracie, I.B. McInnes, A.D. Hislop and D.J. Blackbourn. Suppression of antigen-specific T cell responses by the KSHV vOX2 protein and its cellular orthologue, CD200. J.Virol. 86: 6246-6257, 2012.

Berhane, S., C. Aresté, J. Ablack, G. Ryan, D.J. Blackbourn, J.S. Mymryk, A.S. Turnell, J.C. Steele & R.J.A. Grand. Adenovirus E1A interacts directly with, and regulates the level of expression of, the immunoproteasome component MECL1. Virology, 421: 149-158, 2011.

Mutocheluh, M., L. Hindle, C. Aresté, S.A. Chanas, L.M. Butler, K. Lowry, K. Shah, D.J. Evans & D.J. Blackbourn. KSHV vIRF-2 inhibits type 1 interferon signalling by targeting ISGF-3. J. Gen. Virol., 92: 2394-8, 2011.

Jackson, B.R., J.R. Boyne, M. Noerenberg, A. Taylor, G.M. Hautbergue, M.J. Walsh, R. Wheat, D.J. Blackbourn, S.A. Wilson, A. Whitehouse. An interaction between KSHV ORF57 and UIF provides mRNA-adaptor redundancy in herpesvirus intronless mRNA export. PLoS Pathog. 2011 Jul;7(7):e1002138. Epub 2011 Jul 21.

Butler L.M., H.C. Jeffery, R.L. Wheat, P.C. Rae, K. Townsend, K.R. Alkharsah, T.F. Schulz, G.B. Nash and D.J. Blackbourn. KSHV inhibits neutrophil recruitment through an IL-6 dependent mechanism - a new paradigm for viral immune evasion. J. Virol. 85: 7321-7332, 2011.

Taylor, G.S. and D.J. Blackbourn. Immunomodulation by infectious agents in human cancers: Lessons from gammaherpesviruses EBV and KSHV. Cancer Letters 305: 263-278, 2011.

Durrington, H.J., P.D. Upton, S. Hoer, J. Boname, B. Dunmore, J. Yang, T.K. Crilley, L.M. Butler, D.J. Blackbourn, G.B. Nash, P.J. Lehner, N.W. Morrell. Identification of a lysosomal pathway regulating degradation of the bone morphogenetic protein receptor type-II. J. Biol. Chem. 285: 37641-49, 2010.

Aresté, C., M. Mutocheluh, M. and D.J. Blackbourn. Identification of Caspase-mediated Decay of Interferon Regulatory Factor-3, Exploited by a Kaposi Sarcoma-associated Herpesvirus Immunoregulatory Protein. J. Biol. Chem. 284: 23272-85, 2009.

Aresté, C. and Blackbourn, D.J. Modulation of the immune system by Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. Trends in Microbiology. 17:119-129, 2009.

Wang, L., M. Pietrek, M. Brinkmann, A. Hävemeier, I. Fischer, B. Hillenbrand, O. Dittrich-Breiholz, M. Kracht , S. Chanas, D.J. Blackbourn and T.F. Schulz. Identification and functional characterization of a spliced Rhesus Rhadinovirus gene with homology to the K15 gene of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. J. Gen. Virol. 90:1190-1201, 2009.

Okroj, M., L. Mark, A. Stokowska, S.W. Wong, D.J. Blackbourn, O.B. Spiller, A. Blom. Characterization of the complement inhibitory function of Rhesus Rhadinovirus complement control protein (RCP). J. Biol. Chem. 284:505-514, 2009.

Mark, L., D.G. Proctor, D.J. Blackbourn, A.M. Blom, O.B. Spiller. Separation of decay-accelerating and cofactor functional activities of KSHV complement control protein (KCP) using monoclonal antibodies. Immunology. 123:228-38, 2008.

Colman, R. and D.J. Blackbourn. Cofactors in KS Development. AIDS. 22:1629-32, 2008.