Research Programs


Tumor Virology Program

Program Leader(s): Erle Robertson, PhD and David Weiner, PhD

The Tumor Virology Program is based on the recognition of the role of viruses as causative agents or effectors in cellular transformation and genesis of some cancers. These cancers include lymphomas, carcinomas, sarcomas and papillomas as well as lymphoproliferative disease in AIDS and post-transplant immunocompromised patients. This program provides the central forum and organizational structure needed to facilitate the intra and interprogrammatic research collaborations within a strong and growing group of molecular and classical virologists and clinical investigators at Penn. Program members have a wide range of research expertise in such areas as: the mechanisms of viral mediated cellular transformation and oncogenesis (e.g. dysregulation of targeted cellular signaling pathways and viral effects on cellular tumor suppressors, such as RB and p53, Wnt signaling pathway, TNF signaling pathway and the Notch signaling pathway); the use of viruses as model systems for the study of normal and abnormal cellular gene expression control and growth control (e.g., transcriptional regulation through promoter association with specific transcription factors, chromatin remodeling and the effects on the cell cycle mediated by viral proteins); and the molecular biology of retroviruses as it relates to cancer and AIDS (e.g. gene inactivation of dysregulation through the insertion of retroviral genomes adjacent to protooncogenes or disruption of specific regulators of known cellular oncogenes). Interactions between basic scientists and clinical investigators are beginning to emerge in an effort to foster translational studies in diagnosis and potential future therapeutics in treating viral associated cancers.

Visit the Tumor Virology Program Website.