Dr. Nicholas Wallace
Division of Biology
Feature story in JCRC's 2017 Conquest magazine
In our lab, we study viruses that cause cancer, namely human papillomaviruses or HPVs. HPV infections can be very deadly. Indeed, in the time that it takes to read this paragraph, a cancer caused by HPV will kill at least one person. These viruses are not alive like the cells in our body. HPVs lack the ability to make the proteins required for their own life cycle. Instead, they convert infected cells into factories producing viral progeny. This transformation includes the uncontrolled and rapid growth associated with cancer. Typically, HPV infections, and the changes associated with them, are quickly cleared by our immune system. However, if the virus escapes the immune system and the changes become permanent, a tumor will form. We study HPV biology in an attempt to reduce the suffering caused by these viruses. Specifically, by learning how HPV proteins manipulate cells, we can determine which cancers are caused by HPV infections and predict effective treatments for tumors known to be caused by HPV.
We recognize that the impact of our work is expanded through collaborations and open communication with both the scientific and non-scientific community, so we encourage you to visit our lab webpage or contact us if you would like to learn more about HPV and cancer.