Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Robertson Lab

Tumor Virology Program

The Tumor Virology Program was founded in 1993 to serve as the central forum for facilitating interactions between virologists involved in cancer-related research on the Penn campus as well as with other investigators with an interest in the etiological basis of cancer. Program members have broad expertise in EBV, KSHV, alpha and beta herpesviruses, HPV, HCV, HIV and other retroviruses, as well as emerging viral agents including coronaviruses, SARS, Ebola and West Nile viruses. The Program is organized into four highly interactive and productive affinity groups: Viral Oncogenesis, DNA Virology, Viral Receptors and Retrovirology, and General Virology. Since 2002 the program has been led by Erle S. Robertson, PhD, who is recognized for his contributions to the field of Tumor Virology. Dr. Robertson is an experienced, well funded tumor virologist who is highly collaborative, as shown by his many joint programmatic developments with a number of investigators from varying scientific backgrounds. He continues to make important improvements in the overall program to further develop the program, and enhance intra- and inter-programmatic collaboration, which includes translational research. Most importantly, Dr. Robertson has stimulated considerable interest among basic and clinical investigators in studying viruses and cancer in collaboration with members of the Tumor Biology, Cancer Control and Cancer Therapeutics Programs, among others. These and other strategies have resulted in the recruitment of a recent tumor virologist to the program, a strong commitment to translational research, the development of new interprogrammatic collaborative interactions, and active participation by members in program meetings and interdisciplinary, interprogrammatic retreats. The major areas of viral-related research in the Tumor Virology Program include:
1) Studies to determine the mechanisms mediating cellular transformation, immortalization and cell cycle dysregulation by viral encoded proteins;
2) Studies to understand the role of viral proteins in cellular and viral gene expression and on control of cellular growth and survival;
3) Research involving the structure and function of viral receptors and viral-receptor interactions;
4) Investigation of the molecular biology and pathogenesis of retroviruses as they relate to AIDS and AIDS-associated malignancies;
5) Studies focused on elucidation of the mechanisms of viral neuropathology;
6) Studies to develop viral vectors for human gene therapy and cancer;
7) And development of vaccine strategies for the treatment of viral-associated cancers. Post-doctoral or per-doctoral appointments will initially be for one year and continuation during this period and renewal of this award for a second year will be based on satisfactory performance, a written progress report, availability of funding and active participation in program related activities.

►     Predoctoral and Postdoctoral positions are available on a NIH training grant.
►     Each position will last 1-2 years
►     Candidates will have the choice of an established laboratory throughout the School of Medicine, Children's
         Hospital of Philadelphia, School of Veterinary Medicine, School of Dental Medicine and the Wistar Institute.

To Apply  please send:
a Cover letter from your mentor
Project Summary
CV, including publications
Mentor Biosketch
2 reference letters
► Transcript

to: Dr. Erle S. Robertson
Department of Otorhinolaryngology
3610 Hamilton Walk
201E Johnson Pavilion
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6076

      20% of all human cancers are associated with viruses functioning as biological cofactors in driving these cancers. Some of these viruses may have a direct role in mediating these cancers as in the case of HIV related cancers, which include Kaposi’s sarcoma, pleural effusion lymphomas, and lymphoproliferative disease. There is also an increase in the number of HPV related patients, for example, in the immunocompromised patients who are on HAART therapy and in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas.
     The Tumor Virology Program at the University of Pennsylvania serves as the central forum for facilitating interactions among investigators involved in cancer-related viral research on the Penn campus. Program members have expertise in EBV, KSHV, HPV, HCV, HIV and other retroviruses. There are 18 trainers in this program, all of whom are committed to training pre and postdoctoral fellows for biomedical research careers.
     Viral related cancers are expected to increase as the technology for identifying these agents improves. We provide an atmosphere of collaboration between clinical and basic scientists for our trainees who will have the opportunity to formulate ideas, which will lead to basic and translational studies supporting a cohesive group in tumor virology.

Program Leader: 
Erle Robertson, PhD
Research Interests:
Mechanisms of Oncogenesis by Gammaherpesvirus
Trainers include:   
Devraj Basu, MD, PhD Cell and Molecular Biology
Kyong-Mi Chang, MD HBV, HIV/HCV coinfection, viral pathogenesis, immunogenetics, epitope mapping
Lewis Chodosh, MD, PhD Cancer biology, Genomics and computational biology, Cancer genetics, Breast cancer, Endocrinology, Tumor dormancy and recurrence
David Feldser, PhD Lung Cancer
Serge Fuchs, MD, PhD Intereferon pathway and various types of cancer, HCV and HCC
Roger Greenberg, MD, PhD Chromatin, Breast/Ovarian cancer, DNA repair, cellular senescence, BRCA1
Hongzhe Li (Lee), PhD Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Genomics And Computational Biology
Paul Lieberman, PhD Human Tumor Viruses (EBV, KSHV) and Telomeres
Ronen Marmorstein, PhD Posttranslational modification, viral oncoproteins, transcription, enzymology
George Shaw, MD, PhD Virology
Italo Tempera, PhD The epigenetic mechanisms underlying Epstein Barr virus (EBV)
Andrei Thomas-Tikhonenko, PhD Pathobiology, Hematopoietic malignancies, Lymphomas, Leukemia
David Weiner, PhD DNA Vaccines, HIV, Viral Protein R, Vaccines
Matthew Weitzman, PhD Virology, Virus Replication, DNA Damage and Repair, Genome Instability, Viral Vectors
Kathryn Wellen, PhD Cancer Metabolism
Elizabeth White, PhD Cell and Molecular Biology.
Eric Witze, PhD Pharmacology, Cell and Molecular Biology.
Xiaolu Yang, PhD Tumor suppressors, tumor metabolism, and protein quality control in cancer.
Jianxin You, PhD DNA tumor viruses, oncogenesis, episome maintenance, Tumor virology
Yan Yuan, PhD KSHV Biology and Pathogenicity