Mary  Kearney, Ph.D.

Mary F. Kearney, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute


Dr. Kearney conducts research on the emergence of HIV drug resistance, the persistence of HIV during antiretroviral treatment (ART), and the sources of rebound viremia after stopping ART.  Her studies have demonstrated that a diverse population of HIV-infected cells persist during ART, that some infected cells proliferate despite ART, and that residual viremia results from viral expression of cells infected prior to ART.  Dr. Kearney heads the Translational Research Section, which aims to understand the genetics, evolution, and persistence of HIV and other RNA viruses and to design new approaches toward targeting and killing infected cells.  Currently, she also serves as Chair of the NIH Women Scientists Advisors (WSA). The WSA identify issues affecting women scientists and design and implement strategies to address them. Dr. Kearney was appointed as HIV DRP Deputy Director of Translational/Clinical Research in 2021 and as CCR Deputy Director of Basic Research in 2023.

Areas of Expertise

Drug Resistance
Viral Persistence
HIV Residual Viremia
Viral Evolution


Selected Key Publications

Early emergence and long-term persistence of HIV-infected T-cell clones in children

Bale MJ, Katusiime MG, Wells D, Wu X, Spindler J, Halvas EK, Cyktor JC, Wiegand A, Shao W, Cotton MF, Hughes SH, Mellors JW, Coffin JM, Van Zyl GU, Kearney MF
mBio. 12: e00568-21, 2021. [ Journal Article ]

Combined HIV-1 sequence and integration site analysis informs viral dynamics and allows reconstruction of replicating viral ancestors

Patro SC, Brandt LD, Bale MJ, Halvas EK, Joseph KW, Shao W, Wu X, Guo S, Murrell B, Wiegand A, Spindler J, Raley C, Hautman C, Sobolewski M, Fennessey CM, Hu WS, Luke B, Hasson JM, Niyongabo A, Capoferri AA, Keele BF, Milush J, Hoh R, Deeks SG, Maldarelli F, Hughes SH, Coffin JM, Rausch JW, Mellors JW, Kearney MF
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 116: 25891-25899, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

HIV infected T cells can proliferate in vivo without inducing expression of the integrated provirus

Musick A, Spindler J, Boritz E, Pérez L, Crespo-Vélez D, Patro SC, Sobolewski MD, Bale MJ, Reid C, Keele BF, Capoferri A, Shao W, Wiegand A, Simonetti FR, Mellors JW, Hughes SH, Coffin JM, Maldarelli F, Kearney MF
Front Microbiol. 10: 2204, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

HIV-1 in lymph nodes is maintained by cellular proliferation during antiretroviral therapy

McManus WR, Bale MJ, Spindler J, Wiegand A, Musick A, Patro SC, Sobolewski MD, Musick VK, Anderson EM, Cyktor JC, Halvas EK, Shao W, Wells D, Wu X, Keele BF, Milush JM, Hoh R, Mellors JW, Hughes SH, Deeks SG, Coffin JM, Kearney MF
J. Clin. Invest. 130: 126714, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

Single-cell analysis of HIV-1 transcriptional activity reveals expression of proviruses in expanded clones during ART

Wiegand A, Spindler J, Hong FF, Shao W, Cyktor JC, Cillo AR, Halvas EK, Coffin JM, Mellors JW, Kearney MF
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 114: E3659-E3668, 2017. [ Journal Article ]

Job Vacancies

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Mary Kearney receives NCI Director's Award For Emerging Leader (2024)

New Investigator Scholarships, Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections

Joshua Gluck and Victoria Neer were awarded a New Investigator Scholarships to attend the 2024 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI).  Joshua Gluck poster on "Intact Proviruses Persist in Expressed Genes in People With Non-Suppressible HIV on Long-Term ART"  and Victoria Neer poster on "Distinct Populations of HIV-Infected Naïve and Memory CD4+ T-Cell Clones in Children on ART".  Adam Capoferri also presented his poster on "In Vivo Detection of HIV-1 Antisense Transcripts in Donors Before and During ART".

Previous CROI scholarship awardees include Jennifer Groebner in 2021, Adam Capoferri in 2021, Sean Patro and Jenna Hasson in 2020, Mary Grace Katusiime in 2019, Andrew Musick in 2017 and 2018, and Chad Coomer in 2014.

Diversity Career Development Program

Congratulations to Shadab Parvez and Toluleke Famuyiwa who were selected for the 2024 Diversity Career Development Program. The goal of DCDP is to provide postdoc fellows from diverse backgrounds with leadership skills and tools to achieve their full potential at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and advance in their careers.

Mary Kearney appointed CCR Deputy Director of Basic Research in 2023

Jason W. Rausch received 2023 Federal Technology Transfer Award

Jason W. Rausch received a 2023 Federal Technology Transfer Award for developing an Oxford Nanopore library prep protocol and companion Python demultiplexing script to sequence PCR amplicons derived from HIV-1 proviruses in high throughput.

NIH Fellows Awards for Research Excellence

Adam Capoferri won a 2023 NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence (FARE) for his work on "HIV viral load is determined by the number of infected blood cells with transcriptionally active proviral genomes". This award is used to attend and present his work at a scientific meeting in the U.S.  This award, which acknowledges outstanding scientific research performed by intramural postdoctoral fellows, is sponsored by the NIH Fellows Committee, Scientific Directors, and Office of Intramural Training and Education and is funded by the Scientific Directors.  FARE awards are based on scientific merit, originality, experimental design, and overall quality/presentation of the abstracts. Previous winner, Jennifer Groebner (2022).

Intramural AIDS Research Fellowships

Intramural AIDS Research Fellowship (IARF) awards from the Office of AIDS Research, Office of Intramural Research, and Office of Intramural Research & Training in the National Institutes of Health include full stipend support to successful candidates who demonstrate outstanding scientific potential through both an imaginative and thoughtful research plan and a well thought out career development plan.

Adam Capoferri received an IARF award in 2023 for his research project on "Proviral and Integration Landscape in Untreated People Living with HIV". Adam Capoferri received an IARF award in 2022 for his research project on "Dynamics of HIV-1 Proviral Expression in Untreated People Living with HIV".

Mary Kearney Received 2021 NIH Director's Award

Mary Kearney received a 2021 NIH Director's Award with other members of the CCR Women Scientists Advisors (WSAs) for "demonstrating extraordinary initiative, leadership, and creativity to assess and respond to career development and workplace issues in the wake of the pandemic."

Mary Kearney Appointed as a Deputy Director in HIV Dynamics and Replication Program

In October 2021, Mary Kearney was appointed as HIV DRP Deputy Director of Translational/Clinical Research.

Mary Kearney Selected to Receive NCI Director's Award

Mary Kearney was been nominated by CCR Director, Tom Misteli, and selected to receive an individual 2021 NCI Director's Award for Workplace Wellness in recognition of her initiative and accomplishments to improve workplace wellness through exemplary leadership and mentoring.

2019 NIH Director's Award

Mary Kearney received a 2019 NIH Director's Award as a member of the NIH Women Scientists Advisors (WSA) Executive Committee.  Nominated by the NIH Office of the Director, the Executive Committee members received this team award for leadership of the WSA in promoting recruitment, retention, and recognition of women scientists and fair treatment with respect to salary and work environment.

2018 Leidos Outstanding Achievement Award

Wei Shao received a Leidos Outstanding Achievement Award in 2018 for developing the Retrovirus Integration Database ( and the Proviral Sequence Database (

2015 NCI Director's Award

NCI HIV Integration Sites Analysis (ISA) Team 2015

Members of the NCI HIV Integration Sites Analysis (ISA) team received a group award at the NCI Director's Award ceremony in November 2015 "for discoveries on HIV survival during antiretroviral therapy, revealing the importance of integration site and clonal expansion."  The ISA group award recipients included Stephen Hughes, Andrea Ferris, Shawn Hill, Mary Kearney, Frank Maldarelli, Wei Shao, and Jonathan Spindler (HIV DRP); Francesco Simonetti (University of Milan); John Coffin (Tufts University); John Mellors (University of Pittsburgh); and David Wells, Ling Su, and Xiaolin Wu (Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc.).

Award for Excellence in Graduate Research, Catholic University of America

Mary Kearney was awarded The Benedict T. DeCicco Award for Excellence in Graduate Research in 2008 by the Biology Faculty of the Catholic University of America.


Elizabeth Anderson, Ph.D.
Predoctoral Fellow
Michael Bale, M.S.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Cailyn Barthlow, B.S.
Prebaccalaureate Fellow (CRTA)
Neeru Bhardwaj, Ph.D.
Special Volunteer
Valerie Boltz, M.S.
Research Biologist
Cristina Ceriani, Ph.D.
Special Volunteer
Charles Coomer, M.Sc.
Summer Student
Monica Gouzoulis, B.S.
Summer Student
Jennifer Groebner, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Jenna Hasson, B.A.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Nicholas Johnson
Summer Student
Lina Josefsson, Ph.D.
Special Volunteer
Mary Grace Katusiime, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
William McManus, M.S.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Helene Mens, M.D., Ph.D.
Guest Researcher
Victoria Musick, B.S.
Summer Student
Aurelie Niyongabo, M.S.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow
Alex Scheltema
Summer Student
Rachel Sklutuis, B.S.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow (CRTA)
Tyler Snoots, B.S.
Summer Student
Anuradha Sreedhara
Summer Student
Sloane Yu, M.D., M.B.A.
Postbaccalaureate Fellow