The Molecular Virology (MV) Research Program is an interdisciplinary basic Research Program consisting of 24 members in 17 departments with common interests in the molecular biology and immunology of viruses relevant to cancer and related topics. The goals of this Program are to facilitate research into the basic mechanisms of viral tumorigenesis and anti-viral immunity and to conduct investigations that may lead to novel approaches to prevent or treat tumors associated with viruses. Because viruses play a causal role in a substantial fraction of human tumors, studies carried out in this Program may eventually have an important impact on cancer prevention and treatment by revealing the mechanisms responsible for tumor virus replication and tumorigenesis, thus identifying novel approaches for translational efforts. In addition, the molecular mechanisms responsible for viral and non-viral tumors share many features, such as the inactivation of p53 and Rb, so these studies will also provide important insight into the development and treatment of cancers that are not associated with viruses. Under the leadership of Daniel DiMaio, MD, PhD, a tumor virologist, and Wendell Yarbrough, MD, MMHC, a head and neck surgeon, the MV Program accomplishes these goals primarily by encouraging and stimulating collaborative research though sponsoring the monthly MV Program Meetings, monthly faculty virology lunches, and two Memorial Lectureships;and by providing access to YCC Shared Resources and to competitions for YCC Pilot grants. Notably, since the last submission of this grant, MV Program members have received $567,500 in YCC pilot funds and parlayed that into ~$15M in extramural funding. The faculty of this program is distinguished, and in aggregate, the ten full professors in the MV Research Program have received seven NIH MERIT Awards. Several new members have been added to the MV Program, bringing new strength in HIV research, structural biology, translational research, and viral epidemiology. A great strength of the MV Program is the existence of strong research efforts in all of the viruses or virus groups associated with human cancer, as well as HIV, which is an important cofactor in many human cancers because of immunosuppression. In addition, the MV Program faculty comprise the great majority of lecturers in the graduate level course, Molecular Biology of Animal Viruses. Since the last submission of the CCSG, members of this Program published 303 (2006-11) cancer related papers, of which 21'(7%) were intra-programmatic and 73 (24%) inter-programmatic. The total cancer research funding of the MV Program is $7.9M annual direct costs ($12.6M total costs), of which $7.6M direct costs is peer-reviewed and $2.4M is NCI-funded.
Virus infection is directly responsible for approximately 15% of cancer deaths worldwide, including some common cancers such as cervical and liver cancer. Better understanding of mechanisms of tumor virus entry, replication, and transformation will provide new approaches to prevent and treat these cancers.
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