Main Content

Stephen J. Stray, PhD

Stephen J. StrayAssistant Professor
(601) 984-1735

BSc (Honours), Melbourne, Australia, 1988
PhD, University of Alabama, Birmingham, 2000

View PubMed articles

Primary research interest

My laboratory has two major interests: virus evolution, using influenza virus as a model, and developing virus-based tools for the treatment of cancer.

  • Influenza viruses evolve rapidly via antigenic drift due to the accumulation of mutations in the viral genes. Evolution of the major surface antigens, Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA) is thought to be driven by selection for escape from the host antibody response. We are interested in understanding the genetic changes that occur in viral populations under the selective pressure of the polyclonal antibody response found in humans and other animals. We are also interested in understanding how changing structural and biophysical properties of HA and NA epitopes may confer selective advantage in the presence of antibodies.
  • Viruses are exquisitely evolved to deliver cargo to specific cells. Most viruses are adapted to recognize very specific cell types by binding to a single or limited range of cell surface receptors. Recent advances in the field of oncolytic (cancer-killing) virus therapy have seen the licensing of two virus- based therapeutics for specific types of cancer. We wish to enhance this “toolbox” for physicians to use by identifying additional viruses that may be useful in targeting other types of cancer, and also building on our understanding of the assembly of simple viruses such as the Hepatitis B virus to allow us to build targeted delivery systems for other kinds of anti-cancer drugs.


  • The cholesterol-dependent cytolysin pneumolysin from Streptococcus pneumoniae binds to lipid raft microdomains in human corneal epithelial cells. Taylor SD, Sanders ME, Tullos NA, Stray SJ, Norcross EW, McDaniel LS, Marquart ME. PLoS One. 2013;8(4):e61300. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061300     
  • Subtype- and antigenic site-specific differences in biophysical influences on evolution of influenza virus hemagglutinin. Stray SJ, Pittman LB. Virol J. 2012 May 8;9:91. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-9-91. 
  • Boom and Bust Cycles in Virus Growth Suggest Multiple Selective Forces in Influenza A Evolution.  
  • Thangavel RR, Reed A, Norcross EW, Dixon SN, Marquart ME, Stray SJ. Virol J. 2011 Apr 18;8(1):180.

Other activities

  • Course Director, Medical Microbiology (MICR 611 and MICR 701)
  • Course Director, Dental Microbiology (DENT 641)
  • Course Director, Fundamental Microbiology (MICR 741)
  • Chair, Institutional Biosafety Committee