Fred Hutch, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and UW Medicine Complete Restructure of Partnership

Learn More

Spotlight on Denise Galloway

Sparking Changes Within Cells

Denise Galloway, Microbiologist and Expert in Pathogen-Associated Malignancies

Early in Dr. Denise Galloway’s career, she became fascinated by the idea that a virus could lead to cancer by sparking changes within cells.

“So I started asking: Which of the virus’s genes cause the cell to become abnormal and what do they do?” said Galloway, who holds the Paul Stephanus Memorial Endowed Chair.

This question led Galloway to study the human papillomavirus, or HPV, and to make breakthrough contributions to a vaccine that prevents HPV and averts tens of thousands of cervical cancer cases each year.

Denise Galloway, Ph.D., speaks about how HPV oncoproteins disrupt the repair of DNA damage during the Northwest Gynecological Cancer Symposium, December 4, 2017, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington.
Denise Galloway, Ph.D., speaks about how HPV oncoproteins disrupt the repair of DNA damage during the Northwest Gynecological Cancer Symposium, December 4, 2017, at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, Washington. Robert Hood / Fred Hutch

Galloway and her colleagues showed that HPV is associated with nearly all genital-tract cancers and with many head and neck cancers. Her team also played a pivotal role in identifying how HPV causes cancer.

Galloway is particularly proud of how quickly her research translated into a lifesaving approach.

“In just 25 years, we went from not having any idea what viruses were involved in these cancers to having a vaccine,” she said. “That’s amazingly fast.”

“I would like to make a dent in reducing some other pathogen-associated cancers. You know, we had a great hit with HPV. I would like a great hit with something else.”

Now, Galloway is building on her experience and that landmark advance to lead a larger and even more ambitious initiative. As scientific director of the Hutch’s Pathogen-Associated Malignancies Integrated Research Center, she is driving efforts to understand, treat and prevent cancers caused, directly or indirectly, by viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.

Each year, 14 million people worldwide are diagnosed with cancer, and up to 20 percent of those cancers are caused by pathogens. Her goal through the center is to help Fred Hutch lead the way in eliminating that burden — and to advance cures for all cancers to chart a new research direction. 

“I would like to make a dent in reducing some other pathogen-associated cancers,” Galloway said. “You know, we had a great hit with HPV. I would like a great hit with something else.”

RELATED RESOURCES

Researcher News

More News
Dr. Denise Galloway elected Fellow of the American Association for Cancer Research Academy Cancer biologist contributed basic and translational insights that made the cancer-preventive HPV vaccine possible March 22, 2022
Correlation is not (necessarily) causation Or, how we know herpes doesn’t cause cervical cancer — and HPV does February 13, 2020
Dr. Denise Galloway, expert in cancer-causing viruses, named 'Woman of Influence' Puget Sound Business Journal recognizes researcher's impact, scientific leadership November 8, 2019
New trial aims to curb HPV-related cancers in HIV+ women and children International ‘dream team’ to use new technologies and prevention approaches to help those at highest risk October 14, 2019
Last Modified, September 19, 2022