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Department of Pathology

Project: Pathogenesis of Human Papillomavirus Infections


The papillomaviruses are a large group of pathogens which infect skin and mucous membranes where they induce a spectrum of proliferative disorders from warts to cancer. A subgroup of human papillomavirus (HPV) types, particularly HPV 16 and 18 and their relatives, is closely associated with the development of certain human cancers, most notably cervical cancer. This raises the possibility that intervention in the natural history of HPV infection in the genital tract by prevention or treatment could have a major impact on this cancer, the second commonest malignancy in women in the world.

The ways in which the cell may control the life cycle of the virus and conversely how the virus may exert effects on the growth and differentiation of the host cell are still tantalising mysteries. The contribution of the immune response to papillomavirus infection can greatly affect the degree and duration of disease. Understanding the ways in which the immune system develops a response to the human papillomavirus is important if effective vaccines against viral-associated disease are to be produced.

A phase of dysplastic growth of the genital epithelium can precede invasive cancer and is frequently associated with human papillomavirus infection. A search for the cellular and viral changes that could control the progression of neoplastic disease forms another area of research focus.


Dr Jane Sterling PhD FRCP
Hon. Consultant Dermatologist
Addenbrookes Hospital


Key publications: 
  1. Stanley MA. (2012) Epithelial cell responses to infection with human papillomavirus. Clin Microbiol Rev. 25:215-22.
  2. Stanley MA. (2012) Genital human papillomavirus infections: current and prospective therapies. J Gen Virol. 93(Pt 4):681-91.
  3. Crawford R, Grignon AL, Kitson S, Winder DM, Ball SL, Vaughan K, Stanley MA, Sterling JC, Goon PK. (2011) High prevalence of HPV in non-cervical sites of women with abnormal cervical cytology. BMC Cancer. 11:473.
  4. Ball SL, Winder DM, Vaughan K, Hanna N, Levy J, Sterling JC, Stanley MA, Goon PK. (2011) Analyses of human papillomavirus genotypes and viral loads in anogenital warts. J Med Virol. 83:1345-1350.
Emeritus Professor of Epithelial Biology
Division of Cellular and Molecular Pathology
Professor Margaret  Stanley

Contact Details

Department of Pathology
University of Cambridge
Tennis Court Road
Currently not accepting PhD students
Not available for consultancy