Virus and Other Infection-associated Cancers

Program Overview

The Virus and Other Infection-associated Cancer (VOIC) Research Program explores associations between microbial infections and human cancer and accelerates clinical applications of basic science findings. VOIC has been at the forefront in defining a shift in cancers from classic AIDS-defining cancers to non–AIDS-defining cancers in aging patients on long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART). The goal of the Program is to promote research to discover and clarify the underlying causal relationships between microbial infections and human cancer. Towards this end, VOIC provides an interdisciplinary and collaborative program structure to accelerate new insights and increase efficacy for therapeutic and preventive cancer interventions.

The main research and translational activities of VOIC include human tumor viruses, viral immunology and vaccines, associations between bacterial infections and cancer, and the connection between HIV/AIDS and cancer. The Program leaders are Dr. Wendell Yarbrough and Dr. Walther Mothes. Dr. Yarbrough is an NIH-funded otolaryngologist with clinical and translational research interests in head and neck tumors who has worked tirelessly to foster VOIC collaborations with clinicians, initiate clinical trials, increase intra- and inter-program-matic collaborations. Dr. Mothes is an NCI-funded investigator who uses state-of-the-art imaging technologies to visualize the spread of oncogenic retroviruses in living animals and reveal the conformational events in HIV-1 viral glycoprotein during virus entry.

The goals of the Virus and Other Infection-associated Cancer Research Program are to:
    1. Elucidate molecular mechanisms of tumorigenesis by viruses and other infectious agents
    2. Provide the scientific basis for novel treatment and prevention approaches against virus- and other infection-associated cancers