Skip to main content


Paul Hess, DVM, PhD, DACVIM

Associate Professor, Oncology & Immunology

Office: 919.513.6183

• BA, English, Biology; Rutgers, 1985
• DVM; Mississippi State, 1992
• PhD, Immunology; NCSU, 2002 [Gilboa Lab, Duke]

Post-Graduate Training
• Small Animal Rotating Internship; NCSU, 1992-3
• Residency, Small Animal Internal Medicine; NCSU, 1994-7
• Post-doctoral Researcher, UNC-CH, 2003-8, [Frelinger Lab]
• Residency, Medical Oncology; NCSU, 2002-8
Professional Affiliations
• Graduate Faculty, NCSU Comparative Biomedical Sciences (CBS), Immunology Concentration
• NCSU Biotechnology Program
• NCSU Comparative Medicine Institute
• American Association of Immunologists
• American Association of Veterinary Immunologists
• Veterinary Cancer Society
• American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (SAIM, Oncology)

Research Interests
Cancer in dogs: We’re working to develop new immunotherapies for two common, deadly cancers of white blood cells, lymphoma and histiocytic sarcoma. Our goal is to harness the selective killing power of CD8+ T cells to eradicate the tiny number of cancer cells that somehow resist all chemotherapy treatments and ultimately jeopardize the patient’s life. We have four active studies:
• Each patient’s lymphoma cells bear a unique fingerprint that can be used by the immune system to target these cells for elimination; however, identifying this fingerprint by conventional means is technically challenging, prohibitively expensive, and takes many months. We’re investigating whether it’s possible instead to use a combination of computerized DNA analysis and cell culture screening to more quickly, inexpensively and accurately predict the fingerprints of canine lymphomas. [Funded by an NCSU-CVM grant and the Shadow Whatley Research Fund]
• We are investigating whether canine lymphoma (and other cancer) cells actively attempt to evade detection by the CD8+ T cells that we hope to harness. [Funded by an ACVIM Foundation grant and NCSU-CVM Oncology donors]
• We are developing the means to use powerful, state-of-the-art DNA sequencing of lymphoma signatures in a patient’s blood to measure the otherwise invisible number of cancer cells that resist chemotherapy. Once validated, this tool will be employed for real-time determination of the efficacy of individual chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments in providing complete molecular remission. [Funded by a Morris Animal Foundation grant]
• Finally, we are hunting for circulating CD8+ T cells that recognize specific fragments of proteins (antigens) derived from canine viruses and white blood cell tumors. [Funded by a Morris Animal Foundation grant]

Viral infections in cats: CD8+ T cells clear viruses by eliminating infected cells, which they recognize as tiny viral fragments displayed by Leukocyte Antigen class I molecules that are present on the surface of almost all cells. Cats can be afflicted by a number of chronic viral infections for which no effective treatments exist, such as those caused by feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) virus. With little prospect for highly effective antiviral drugs in the near future, eliminating these diseases likely will depend on understanding why specific CD8+ T cells fail to clear these viruses as they should, which, in turn, hinges on understanding the Feline Leukocyte Antigen (FLA) class I system that controls these T-cell responses. To date, characterization of the FLA system remains rudimentary. We are conducting one active study in this area:
• State-of-the-art DNA sequencing is being used to decode the genetic elements that define each one of the feline classical class I genes (known as FLA-E, -H & -K), and to evaluate the frequency of different versions (alleles) of these genes in outbred cats [Funded by an NCSU-CVM donor]

Current lab members:
• Jenny Holmes, MS; Research Technician / Lab manager
• Alex Kapatos; PhD Graduate Student, CBS (Immunology)
• Paige Nemec; PhD Graduate Student, CBS (Immunology)
• Colleen Martin, DVM, MS; Resident, Medical Oncology

• D-117, NCSU-CVM Main Building
• Dept. of Clinical Sciences
1060 William Moore Drive
Raleigh, NC 27607

Interested in becoming a student in the CBS Immunology Program at NCSU?

  • (2013) Characterization and allelic variation of the transporters associated with antigen processing (TAP) genes in the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris).Gojanovich GS, Ross P, Holmer SG, Holmes JC, Hess PR. | Dev Comp Immunol 2013 Dec;41(4):578-86. doi: 10.1016/j.dci.2013.07.011. Epub 2013 Jul 25. PubMed PMID: 23892057; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3846772.
  • (2013) Polymorphisms and tissue expression of the feline leukocyte antigen class I loci FLAI-E, FLAI-H, and FLAI-K.Holmes JC, Holmer SG, Ross P, Buntzman AS, Frelinger JA, Hess PR. | Immunogenetics. 2013 Sep;65(9):675-89. PubMed PMID: 23812210; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3777221.
  • (2012) Allelic diversity at the DLA-88 locus in Golden Retriever and Boxer breeds is limited.Ross P, Buntzman AS, Vincent BG, Grover EN, Gojanovich GS, Collins EJ, Frelinger JA, Hess PR. | Tissue Antigens 2012 Aug;80(2):175-83. PubMed PMID: 22571293; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3407292.
  • (2012) A cell-based MHC stabilization assay for the detection of peptide binding to the canine classical class I molecule, DLA-88Ross P, Holmes JC, Gojanovich GS, Hess PR. | Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2012 Dec 15;150(3-4):206-12. PubMed PMID: 23062801; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3494747.
  • (2010) Evaluation of an in vitro telomeric repeat amplification protocol assay to detect telomerase activity in canine urine.McCleary-Wheeler AL, Williams LE, Hess PR, Suter SE. | Am J Vet Res. 2010 Dec;71(12):1468-74. doi: 10.2460/ajvr.71.12.1468.