Interdisciplinary HPV Prevention Center

The Interdisciplinary HPV Prevention Center is focused on prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The IHPC is directed by Dr. Cosette Wheeler, a scientist in the HPV field with expertise ranging from basic HPV biology to the implementation of primary and secondary HPV interventions.

Wheeler Lab Team Members Image

Program Overview

Over 6 million new cases of sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) infections are reported every year making HPV the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) worldwide.

The HPV vaccine licensed in the US in 2006 targets only 2 of the 15-18 HPV types causally implicated in invasive cervical cancer and has no therapeutic effect on established infections. In addition, US vaccine programs at present do not include males and face barriers to implementation because of societal concerns and cost. Therefore, the majority of women are still at risk for developing cervical cancer requiring continued cervical screening at a cost of $4-5 billion annually in the US.

This ongoing burden of HPV mediated disease requires coordinated efforts to develop more broadly prophylactic and therapeutic interventions against this diverse family of human pathogens. Realization of significant progress in the reduction of HPV-mediated disease requires new knowledge concerning the basic biology of HPV infections, technological innovation in vaccination approaches, thorough evaluation of the implementation and effectiveness of HPV interventions, and the generation of new tools to promote the adoption of HPV prevention strategies.

Thus, the overall goal of this grant is to establish a Sexually Transmitted Infections Cooperative Research Center (STI-CRC) focused on prevention of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and directed by Dr. Cosette Wheeler, a premier scientist in the HPV field with expertise ranging from basic HPV biology to the implementation of primary and secondary HPV interventions.

The specific aims of this STI-CRC grant are:

Aim 1

To establish the University of New Mexico (UNM) Interdisciplinary HPV Prevention Center (IHPC) that incorporates cooperative, multi-disciplinary research approaches to address key gaps in the knowledge required to prevent sexually transmitted, HPV-mediated infections and disease.

Aim 2

To fund and support 4 projects representing a spectrum of interdisciplinary and interactive research programs including:

  • Project 1 models STI PV-host interactions in three dimensional tissue models to define elements of epithelial cell biology and immunity that contribute to the pathogenesis and prevention of HPV STIs;
  • Project 2 utilizes novel vaccine strategies based on virus-display technology to generate broad protection against HPV STIs;
  • Project 3 employs woman-based information systems to capture all events and outcomes of a US population-based cervical screening program and defines implementation and effectiveness of primary and secondary HPV interventions; and
  • Project 4 develops a set of internet web-based intervention tools to be used to promote the informed adoption of HPV and other STI prevention strategies.

Aim 3

To establish three cores that support the IHPC and the interdisciplinary research approaches.

  • Core A: an Administrative Core;
  • Core B: a Virion Production and Viral Infection Assay Core utilizing innovative technologies for virus production, quantification, and animal imaging; and
  • Core C: a Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core.