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Christopher B. Buck, Ph.D.

Portait Photo of Christopher Buck
Laboratory of Cellular Oncology
Head, Tumor Virus Molecular Biology Section
Senior Investigator
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 37, Room 4118
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20892-4263
Fax Number not listed


Johns Hopkins School of Medicine - PhD, mentor: Bob Siliciano
NCI - post-doc, mentors: John Schiller & Doug Lowy


Our group studies polyomaviruses. A great majority of healthy adults chronically shed polyomavirus virions in their urine and from the surface of their skin. Although these lifelong infections generally don't appear to cause symptoms in healthy individuals, under conditions of immune impairment polyomaviruses can cause disease. BK polyomavirus (BKV) causes kidney and bladder damage in organ transplant patients, while its close relative JCV causes a lethal brain disease in patients on immunosuppressive therapies and in individuals suffering from HIV/AIDS. At least one skin-dwelling polyomavirus species, Merkel cell polyomavirus, causes a rare but highly lethal form of skin cancer called Merkel cell carcinoma. Virus discovery efforts led by our lab have uncovered the existence of three additional polyomaviruses (HPyV6, 7, and 10) that are commonly shed from human skin.

The organizing focus of work in the lab is the functional biology of viral capsids. By applying basic-science knowledge of capsid biology, our group has pioneered the development of polyomavirus-based gene transfer vectors. These vectors (also known as pseudoviruses) deliver encapsidated reporter plasmids to the cell nucleus via pathways that resemble the infectious entry of authentic virions. In addition to their utility for studying the mechanics of infectious entry in vitro and in vivo, these tools have a variety of other applications. For example, we use pseudoviruses to perform high-throughput analyses of neutralizing antibody responses. A primary goal of our current work is to understand how polyomaviruses evolve to evade antibody-mediated neutralization. This work has opened the door to clinical development of virus-like particle vaccines against BKV and JCV.

This page was last updated on 7/2/2014.