Over the past 23 years, I have developed expertise in the study of infection research in cancer with a long and successful record of NIH funding. Throughout this time, I successfully mentored the careers of numerous graduate students (n=41), post-doctoral fellows (n=11), and junior faculty. My career had its inception in the relationship between human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer in women and has since evolved to encompass HPV and penile, anal, and oral cancers in men, as well as other infectious diseases and their causal relationships with various cancers. Nearly two million cancer cases are attributed to infectious diseases each year, a number that is expected to increase with the elucidation of new infection-cancer associations. However, many infections can be effectively prevented with vaccines and treated with antiviral therapeutics, providing a unique opportunity to eradicate cancers caused by these agents. Therefore, identification and characterization of these causal relationships in order to inform clinical and public health practice constitutes an immediate and future priority for cancer prevention and control efforts in the U.S. and worldwide. Through my new role as the founding Director for the Center for Infection Research in Cancer (CIRC) at the Moffitt Cancer Center, my goal is to foster transdisciplinary research efforts and recruit promising new investigators to this field. The funding provided by this award will provide me with protected time in which to pursue the goals of mentoring and training the next generation of scientists to become actively engaged at the interface between infection and cancer. Moffitt's Total Cancer Care (TCC) biorepository, as well as data from my multinational HPV Infection in Men (HIM) Study cohort, will provide the basis for training and research in the areas of epidemiology, study design, biostatistics, and the design, implementation, and monitoring of clinical trials. Use of the TCC will also enable me to expand research to multiple viruses and tumor types, such as hematological malignancies. A total of 12-15 mentees are expected to participate throughout the five-year period of the award. Mentees will be identified as those who have an interest in infection and cancer research and will be recruited from various disciplines through established Postdoctoral and Clinical Oncology Fellowship Programs at Moffitt, the departments of Cancer Epidemiology and Health Outcomes and Behavior at Moffitt, and the Colleges of Public Health and Molecular Medicine at the University of South Florida.
This proposal will enable me to expand research efforts in pursuit of infections which cause cancer and will provide the dedicated time needed to recruit and train the next generation of researchers in this field. Findings from these studies are expected to shape the future of clinical and public health practice by increasing prevention and treatment efforts toward these infectious diseases and the resulting malignancies.