Dr Claire Shannon-Lowe

Claire Shannon-Lowe

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
Virology Lecturer

Contact details

Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Claire Shannon-Lowe is a lecturer in virology at the Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy.

Claire’s research primarily focuses on three key areas: The mechanism of Epstein Barr virus (EBV) entry into epithelial cells, T cells and Natural Killer cells; How EBV contributes to cancer development of these cell types; How EBV contributes to resistance to chemotherapy in these cancers. This work is currently funded by the MRC. 


  • PhD in Virology 2002, The Royal Free and University College Hospital
  • MSc in Medical Microbiology 1997, The University of Surrey
  • BSc Hons (2:1) in Applied Biology 1993


Claire Shannon-Lowe studied for a PhD in Virology at The Royal Free and University College Medical School in London where she worked on Cytomegalovirus resistance to antivirals in AIDS patients. She then went on to post doctoral research at the Cancer Research UK Institute for Cancer Studies at The University of Birmingham with Professors Henri-Jacques Delecluse, Alan Rickinson and Martin Rowe. In 2011 Claire was awarded a MRC New Investigator Award.

Claire Shannon-Lowe’s research has focused on the mechanisms of Epstein Barr virus (EBV) entry into EBV-receptor deficient cells including epithelial cells and lymphocytes (T- and NK cells) where EBV infection is associated with malignancies of epithelial, T- and NK cell lineages, including nasopharyngeal and gastric carcinoma, haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, NK leukaemia, extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma.

Claire’s laboratory previously identified how EBV efficiently infects epithelial cells and demonstrated a physiological role for this mode of entry. She has also recently identified the route of entry into T cells and NK cells, previously thought to be refractory to infection. Her laboratory is now concentrating on the events immediately following infection and subsequent development of the associated diseases.


Postgraduate supervision

Claire has supervised PhD students, Masters by Research students and intercalating BSc students.

Claire is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:      

  • The role of EBV in T and NK cell maliganacies.                        
  • The role of EBV in gastric carcinoma.

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Dr Claire Shannon-Lowe directly, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email mds-gradschool@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.


Epstein Barr virus infects the majority of the human population and establishes a silent ‘latent’ infection in B cells. In order for the virus to spread between individuals, it also infects oral epithelial cells where the virus is replicated and shed into saliva. However, on rare occasions the virus infects T cells and NK cells where it causes a range of diseases, from lymphoproliferations to aggressive malignancies. These diseases are often resistant to chemotherapy and the disease outcomes are usually poor. Claire’s laboratory is interested in how EBV infects T cells and NK cells, how EBV causes the range of diseases and how EBV contributes to the chemotherapy resistance with a view to finding alternative effective treatment strategies.

Claire’s group currently runs a large UK-wide study to identify patients with EBV-associated T/NK cell diseases including Haemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis, Chronic Active EBV, Extranodal NK/T cell lymphoma and Aggressive NK leukaemia. The EBV-infected lymphocytes are identified, phenotyped, purified and cultured then examined for susceptibility to a range of novel drugs to identify effective chemotherapeutic drugs for these difficult to treat diseases.

EBV is associated with approximately 10% of gastric carcinoma worldwide, accounting for up to 80,000 deaths per year. EBV-associated gastric carcinoma are genetically distinct from all other subtypes of gastric carcinoma, yet very little is know about how EBV even infects the gastric epithelial cells. Claire’s laboratory is currently investigating how EBV causes gastric carcinoma and has recently established a new physiologically relevant primary epithelial cell culture system to examine how EBV triggers the changes in the gastric epithelial cells leading to gastric carcinoma.

Other activities


Society for General Microbiology.

Peer Reviewing:

Reviewer of manuscripts submitted to several virology and cell biology journals.
Reviewer for grant funding bodies including Kay Kendal Research Fund and Worldwide Cancer Research.

External examination:

External PhD examiner in the areas of Epstein Barr virus.


Recent publications


Collins, P, Fox, CP, George, LC, Pearce, H, Ryan, GB, De Santo, C, Mussai, FJ, Lewis, D, Long, HM & Shannon-Lowe, CD 2021, 'Characterising EBV-associated lymphoproliferative diseases and the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells', Blood, vol. 137, no. 2, pp. 203–215. https://doi.org/10.1182/blood.2020005611

Sejic, N, George, L, Tierney, R, Chang, C, Kondrashova, O, MacKinnon, RN, Lan, P, Bell, A, Lessene, G, Long, H, Strasser, A, Shannon-Lowe, C & Kelly, GL 2020, 'BCL-XL inhibition by BH3-mimetic drugs induces apoptosis in models of Epstein-Barr virus-associated T/NK cell lymphoma', Blood Advances, vol. 4, no. 19, pp. 4775-4787. https://doi.org/10.1182/bloodadvances.2020002446

Fitzsimmons, L, Cartlidge, R, Chang, C, Sejic, N, Galbraith, LCA, Suraweera, CD, Croom-Carter, D, Dewson, G, Tierney, R, Bell, A, Shannon-Lowe, C, Herold, M, Rickinson, A, Colman, PM, Huang, DCS, Strasser, A, Kvansakul, M, Rowe, M & Kelly, GL 2019, 'EBV BCL-2 homologue BHRF1 drives chemoresistance and lymphomagenesis by inhibiting multiple cellular pro-apoptotic proteins', Cell Death & Differentiation , vol. 27, no. 5, pp. 1554-1568. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41418-019-0435-1

Fultang, L, Panetti, S, Ng, M, Collins, P, Graef, S, Rizkalla, N, Booth, S, Richard, L, Noyvert, B, Shannon-Lowe, C, Middleton, G, Mussai, F & De Santo, C 2019, 'MDSC targeting with Gemtuzumab ozogamicin restores T cell immunity and immunotherapy against cancers', EBioMedicine, vol. 47, pp. 235-246. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.08.025

Shannon-Lowe, C, Rickinson, A & Bell, A 2017, 'Epstein-Barr virus-associated lymphomas', Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B, vol. 372, no. 1732, 20160271. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0271

Pekalski, ML, García, AR, Ferreira, RC, Rainbow, DB, Smyth, DJ, Mashar, M, Brady, J, Savinykh, N, Dopico, XC, Mahmood, S, Duley, S, Stevens, HE, Walker, NM, Cutler, AJ, Waldron-Lynch, F, Dunger, DB, Shannon-Lowe, C, Coles, AJ, Jones, JL, Wallace, C, Todd, JA & Wicker, LS 2017, 'Neonatal and adult recent thymic emigrants produce IL-8 and express complement receptors CR1 and CR2', JCI Insight, vol. 2, no. 16. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.93739

Brooks, J, Long, H, Tierney, R, Shannon-Lowe, C, Leese, A, Fitzpatrick, M, Taylor, G & Rickinson, A 2016, 'Early T Cell Recognition of B Cells following Epstein-Barr Virus Infection: Identifying Potential Targets for Prophylactic Vaccination', PLoS pathogens, vol. 12, no. 4, e1005549, pp. 1. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1005549

Wood, CD, Veenstra, H, Khasnis, S, Gunnell, A, Webb, HM, Shannon-Lowe, C, Andrews, S, Osborne, CS & West, MJ 2016, 'MYC activation and BCL2L11 silencing by a tumour virus through the large-scale reconfiguration of enhancer-promoter hubs', eLife, vol. 5, e18270. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.18270

Burns, D, Tierney, R, Shannon-Lowe, C, Croudace, J, Inman, C, Abbotts, B, Nagra, S, Fox, CP, Chaganti, S, Craddock, CF, Moss, P, Rickinson, AB, Rowe, M & Bell, AI 2015, 'Memory B cell reconstitution following allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation is an EBV-associated transformation event', Blood, vol. 126, no. 25, pp. 2665-2675. https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2015-08-665000

Vockerodt, M, Yap, L-F, Shannon-Lowe, C, Curley, H, Wei, W, Vrzalikova, K & Murray, PG 2015, 'The Epstein-Barr virus and the pathogenesis of lymphoma', Journal of Pathology, vol. 235, no. 2, pp. 312-22. https://doi.org/10.1002/path.4459

Tierney, R, Shannon-Lowe, CD, Fitzsimmons, L, Bell, A & Rowe, M 2015, 'Unexpected patterns of Epstein-Barr virus transcription revealed by a High throughput PCR array for absolute quantification of viral mRNA', Virology, vol. 474, no. 1, pp. 117-30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2014.10.030

Quinn, L, Zuo, J, Abbott, R, Shannon-Lowe, C, Tierney, R, Hislop, A & Rowe, M 2014, 'Cooperation between Epstein-Barr virus immune evasion proteins spreads protection from CD8+ T cell recognition across all three phases of the lytic cycle', PLoS pathogens, vol. 10, no. 8, e1004322. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1004322

Rowe, M, Raithatha, S & Shannon-Lowe, C 2014, 'Counteracting effects of cellular Notch and Epstein-Barr virus EBNA2 : implications for stromal effects on virus-host interactions', Journal of virology, vol. 88, no. 20, pp. 12065-12076. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01431-14

Shannon-Lowe, C & Rowe, M 2014, 'Epstein Barr virus entry; kissing and conjugation', Current Opinion in Virology, vol. 4C, pp. 78-84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coviro.2013.12.001

Vockerodt, M, Cader, FZ, Shannon-Lowe, C & Murray, P 2014, 'Epstein-Barr virus and the origin of Hodgkin lymphoma', Chinese Journal of Cancer, vol. 33, no. 12, pp. 591-7. https://doi.org/10.5732/cjc.014.10193

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