American Family Children's Hospital

The mission of the Human Cancer Virology (VR) Program is to advance the understanding, prevention and treatment of virus-associated cancers and other cancers.


Program Leaders

Paul Lambert, MD Shannon C. Kenney, MD


To date, specific human tumor viruses have been causally associated with at least 15-20% of all human cancers and are widely suspected to contribute to additional cancers. Recent research in our program and elsewhere further shows that, for many or most virus-associated cancers, viral gene functions are required both for tumor development and also for continued survival of malignant cells in the final tumor. Thus, inhibiting tumor virus infection, tumor virus replication and maintenance, and/or selected viral gene functions could prevent or cure many cancers.


Accordingly, the goals of the UWCCC Human Cancer Virology Program are: 

  • To elucidate the pathways by which diverse tumor viruses infect, replicate, interact with their hosts, and maintain their presence through the years to decades typically associated with tumor progression.
  • To determine the mechanisms by which tumor viruses promote tumor induction and maintenance, including identifying viral and host genes essential to the continuing survival of tumor cells.
  • To define the molecular changes and diagnostic/prognostic biomarkers defining the differences among normal tissues, virus-associated tumors, virus-free tumors at the same anatomical sites, and pre- cancerous lesions respectively likely to progress or regress.
  • To use the results from all of the above studies to develop novel, improved approaches to prevent and treat tumor virus infection, replication, tumor induction and maintenance. Wherever possible, we will also apply the insights obtained to advance prevention and treatment of virus-independent cancers.

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