Early in his career as a physician-scientist, Corey Casper, M.D., M.P.H., developed an audacious vision. He knew that nearly 25 percent of cancer cases are associated with infectious diseases. He believed that by stopping these viral and bacterial infections with vaccines and other measures, the cancers they cause could be prevented.
When Casper took an eye-opening trip to Uganda in 2004—home to one of the world’s highest concentrations of infection-related cancers—and met colleagues at the Uganda Cancer Institute, he knew he had found his ideal partner. At the country’s sparsely equipped cancer clinic, a grim reality confronted him: Many of the patients were children, and most of their cancers had already reached advanced stages, leaving little hope. "It is a terrible tragedy," Casper said. "But it is one I know we can fix."
In 2004, Casper initiated a collaborative effort with physician-scientists at the Uganda Cancer Institute and the Kampala Cancer Registry that resulted in the formation of the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance. As co-scientific director of this program, based at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Wash., USA, he, along with program co-director Jackson Orem, M.D., director of the Uganda Cancer Institute, established a translational clinical research site in Kampala.
This site currently has 23 ongoing studies examining the control of human herpesvirus 8 replication, biomarkers for the prediction of Kaposi sarcoma development and successful treatment, the immunogenetics of infection-associated cancers, treatment of Kaposi sarcoma and Burkitt lymphoma, the role of nutrition in the development and treatment of infection-related cancers, and the discovery of novel pathogens associated with cancer.
Under Casper’s direction, this research is being bolstered with the addition of The Uganda Cancer Institute/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Clinic and Training Institute, which will break ground Oct. 4, 2011 in Kampala. The new facility will house state-of-the-art infectious disease, cancer histopathology and molecular diagnostics laboratories and quickly expand patient access to diagnosis and treatment.
"A lot of cancer research focuses on incremental steps toward solutions that might not materialize for decades," Casper said. "But we already know how to prevent some infection-related cancers and we can potentially wipe out the others. It’s an incredible opportunity to significantly reduce the cancer burden worldwide."
Casper divides his time between research, teaching and clinical care. His research efforts focus on the transmission, acquisition, natural history, pathophysiology and treatment of infection-associated cancers with a special emphasis on human herpesvirus 8.
# # #
For more information, photos and video of Corey Casper, or other staff from the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance, please contact:
Dean Forbes, Media Relations manager
+1 206-667-2896 (desk) or +1 206-605-0311 (cell)
Additional information can be found here:
About the UCI/Hutchinson Center Cancer Alliance