Shannon Kenney, MD

Infectious Disease
Wi Institute Medical Research
1111 Highland Ave
Madison WI 53705-2275
(608) 265-0533


  • Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut – MD
  • University of North Carolina Hospitals, Chapel Hill, North Carolina – Residency in Medicine/Pediatrics
  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, Laboratory of Biology of Viruses, Bethesda, Maryland – Research Fellowship
  • University of North Carolina Hospitals – Fellowship in Infectious Disease

Professional Activities

Dr. Shannon Kenney is a faculty member in the Division of Infectious Disease within the Department of Medicine and is the Wattawa Bascom Professor of Cancer Research. She is a Fellow of the Infectious Disease Society of America and is an Editorial Board member of the Journal of Virology.

Dr. Kenney’s numerous professional contributions have been recognized by honors including the Woodward Prize from the American Clinical and Climatological Association, invitations to give plenary talks at NIH symposia, and membership on the Burroughs Wellcome Fund’s scientific advisory committee for the Clinical Scientists Awards in Translational Research. She won the 2022 International Henle Award for outstanding research in the field of Epstein-Barr virus and was recently awarded a WARF Professorship by the University of Wisconsin.

Research Interests

Dr. Kenney’s research effort has been focused upon understanding the molecular regulation and pathogenesis of the human herpesvirus, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). Her work in EBV spans a broad range of topics, including viral gene regulation, the effects of the virus on the host immune response, and the development of novel, EBV-targeted therapies for EBV-positive tumors. She has extensively studied the mechanisms by which both EBV immediate-early proteins, BZLF1 and BRLF1, activate the lytic form of viral infection.

Her group discovered that BZLF1 preferentially binds to, and transcriptionally activates, the methylated form of its downstream target promoter, suggesting a unique and unexpected mechanism by which EBV overcomes the inhibitory effect of viral genome methylation. Her group has also shown how the two EBV immediate-early proteins alter the host cell environment in multiple different ways, including usurping control of the host cell cycle, activating a variety of signal transduction pathways, inhibiting p53 function, dispersing PML nuclear bodies, and attenuating the host innate immune response.

Dr. Kenney is now translating the results of these basic molecular studies into the development of new, EBV-targeted therapies for EBV-positive tumors. Her group is also developing a new small animal model to study EBV pathogenesis in vivo.