Maura L. Gillison, MD, PhD
The Gillison laboratory combines the tools of both molecular biology and epidemiology to investigate associations between infectious disease and human tumors. Research to date has focused on the relationship between human papillomavirus (HPV) and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The research team has defined the distinct clinical, pathological and molecular characteristics of HPV-associated head and neck cancer; identified the principal risk factors for the disease; validated methods for oral HPV detection; performed proof of concept studies for use of oral HPV detection in oral cancer screening; established tumor HPV status as a major determinant of head and neck cancer prognosis; validated diagnostic methods; and completed HPV-specific therapeutic vaccine trials. The group now leads clinical trials of vaccines for prevention of oral HPV infection, natural history studies of oral HPV infection, population-based surveys of infection, population-based studies of cancer incidence trends over time, and national, clinical trials specific for HPV-associated head and neck cancer. Molecular studies now focus on predictors of response to treatment. The laboratory also has ongoing studies investigating other, possible infectious disease-tumor associations.