Credentials: Human Oncology
Position title: Chromosomal instability, radiation sensitivity, DNA tumor viruses
1111 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53076
Cancer Biology; Immunology; Virology
Over 50% of cancer patients receive radiation therapy as a component of their treatment. My laboratory aims to study how chromosomal Instability (CIN), an ongoing rate of chromosome missegregation events over the course of multiple cell divisions, which is very common in cancer, affects sensitivity to radiation therapy. I have a particular interest in viral-driven cancers as many of these viruses can themselves induce CIN. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is implicated in over 95% of cervical cancers and is now recognized as the main etiologic agent in oropharyngeal carcinoma (OPC). In locally advanced cases, both of these cancers are treated with definitive cisplatin-based chemoradiation (CRT). Patients with HPV+ OPC tend to respond well to treatment and generally have a good prognosis, however, approximately 30% of locally advanced cervical cancer patients do not respond completely to CRT and have poor survival. Thus, despite a similar etiology, the radio- and chemosensitivity of HPV+ squamous carcinoma cells differ, yet we continue to treat all patients in a similar manner. I aim to determine how different viral genotypes and oncogene expression levels affect CIN and response to radiation therapy. I am also studying how CIN and oncogenic viruses affect the innate and adaptive immune responses in the context of radiation therapy. My ultimate goal is to be able to tailor radiation therapy to the biology of each patient’s tumor to decrease unnecessary side effects and improve patient outcomes.