Biomarkers of human papillomavirus-related cancers

Research Opportunity
Number of Honour Places Available
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Alyssa Cornall 83453690 Personal web page
Co-supervisor Email Number Webpage
Professor Suzanne Garland 83453670 Personal web page

Project Details

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection, and is also the causative infectious agent of cervical cancers, a proportion of other female anogenital cancers, and the majority of anal cancers in both men and women. HPV associated cancers disproportionately affect disadvantaged and/or marginalised populations such as Australian Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples (ATSI), women in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), immunocompromised and/or HIV positive people, and gay and bisexual men (GBM). Prevention of cervical cancers has been very successful in higher-income countries such as Australia using intensive, technically-demanding screening programs, however these types of screening programs are unfeasible in many low-resource settings, and are more technically difficult for other HPV-related cancers such as anal cancer. The identification and development of simple to implement, sensitive and specific biomarkers for cancer risk in HPV-positive individuals has the potential to significantly decrease the burden of these cancers. Cancer development is preceded by certain molecular changes; these include epigenetic modifications such as methylation of viral gene promoters, and changes to the expression of viral and cellular gene products. This project will involve the characterization of molecular patterns in clinical samples from people with and without HPV-related disease – including cancer - with a view to determining the potential of each marker to contribute to effective screening for people at risk of HPV-related cancer. This project will involve laboratory work at the Centre for Women’s Infectious Disease at the Royal Women's Hospital, potentially including nucleic acid purification, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based HPV genotype identification, and other techniques such as real-time PCR, digital droplet PCR, reverse transcriptase PCR to detect messenger RNA (mRNA) transcripts, and/or epigenetic studies including detection and quantification of methylation. Data entry, database design and data manipulation including the possibility of some basic programming, and statistical analysis in the Stata statistics package, will be important for this project. The Centre for Women’s Infectious Disease at The Royal Women’s Hospital is affiliated with the University of Melbourne, the Royal Women's Hospital, the Royal Children's Hospital and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. We collaborate with numerous other institutions in Australia and internationally including primary health care, research institutions, and private industry including private pathology and biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies, with numerous opportunities for multidisciplinary engagement.

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology, Cancer

School Research Themes

Cancer in Medicine, Women's Health

Research Opportunities

Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Research Group / Unit / Centre

Research Node

Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

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