URI President David M. Dooley presented HHV-6 Scientific Director Dharam Ablashi with an honorary doctorate degree at their May 2018 graduation ceremonies. Dooley noted that the degree is awarded to “distinguished individuals, whose accomplishments exemplify our common values of integrity, honesty, compassion, creativity and civic-mindedness.”
He is well-loved by hundreds in the medical and scientific community not only for his brilliant mind and work ethic, but because of the generosity with his time and advice and the courtesy he has shown to others in the field.
Remarks by President Dooley upon the presentation of the reward can be viewed in this six minute video.
Dharam came from India as a DVM to do graduate research on avian viruses at URI in 1962 where he earned his master’s degree, completed the coursework for a doctoral degree, became a post-doctoral fellow at URI and was co-investigator on several NIH grants for three years. He went on to work at NIH and the National Cancer Institute as a research virologist for 23 years, became the head of the Primate Virus Section in the Tumor Virus Laboratory at NCI, co-edited 13 books on herpesviruses and co-authored over 300 research papers, and co-founded three non-profit foundations to support scientific research. He also advised NASA on the risk of viral infection of astronauts traveling to space with primates and developed medical research tools for Advanced Biotechnologies Inc.
In spite of being well past retirement age, Dharam continues to serve as Scientific Director of the HHV-6 Foundation, which supports research into HHV-6, a virus he co-discovered in 1986 in Bob Gallo’s lab at the National Cancer Institute.
Born in India, Ablashi holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine at Panjab University Veterinary College, received a diploma in bacteriology from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute.
While studying at URI, he helped found the International House in Providence, whose mission is to promote friendship, connection, learning and global understanding, and he remains actively committed to that organization.
Although he did all the coursework for a doctorate, functioned at the post-doctoral level, Dharam did not pursue a degree from URI because he felt he could never fulfill the language requirement, which at the time required fluency in German and French.
Dharam was nominated for the award by a group of associates who wanted to recognize his contribution to science over the past six decades. Associates making the petition to URI included: Philip Pellett, PhD, Anthony Komaroff, MD, Steve Jacobson, PhD, Paolo Lusso, PhD, Louis Flamand, PhD, Gerhard Krueger, MD, PhD, Peter Meveczky, MD, David Hudnall, MD, Niza Frenkel, PhD, Per Hollsberg, MD, Tetsushi Yoshikawa, MD, PhD, Irmeli Lautenschlager, MD, PhD, Koichi Yamanishi, MD, PhD, Carol Burke, PhD and Kristin Loomis, MBA.