Zuhair K. Ballas, MD

Professor of Internal Medicine - Immunology

Contact Information

Primary Office
C-42-E13 GH
Iowa City, IA 52242


MD, American University of Beirut
Internship, American University of Beirut
Resident, Rutgers Medical School
Resident, Thomas Jefferson University
Fellow, Allergy/Immunology, Johns Hopkins University
Fellow, Rheumatology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Univ of Washington

Licensure and Certifications

Board Certified, Diagnostic Labratory Immunology
Board Certified, Allergy and Clinical Immunology

Board Certified, Internal Medicine

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Immunology, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Translational Biomedicine

Center, Program and Institute Affiliations

Cardiovascular Research Center, Center for Immunology and Immune-based Diseases, Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center, Institute for Clinical and Translational Science

Research Summary

Dr. Ballas has been actively engaged in immunology research for more than three decades. His focus has been on studying the role of natural killer (NK cells) in health and disease with focus on their role in tumor surveillance. In addition, Dr. Ballas has done some of the seminal studies on the lymphokine-activated killer cells (LAK) wherein he characterized several precursors and effectors with specific spectra of target cell susceptibility. More recently, he has been engaged in examining the effect of CpG oligodeoxynucleotides on NK cell activation in vivo and in vitro using humans and mouse models. Current studies focus on examining the role of NK cell subsets in the tumor regression induced by CpG in mice using a B16 melanoma model with special emphasis on organ-specific metastases. Dr. Ballas has also been examining the modulation of NK cell activity by CpG in humans, in collaboration with Drs. George Weiner and Brian Link. Clinically, Dr. Ballas was one of the first to report a patient with NK cell deficiency who presented with recurrent, recalcitrant, wide-spread HPV associated tumors. Dr. Ballas spends 60% of his time on research with the rest spread between teaching, patient care, and administration.