Welcome to the Katzenellenbogen Lab
In the Katzenellenbogen Lab, we study Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection, affecting more than 75% of the adult population. HPV is categorized as high-risk or low-risk, based on its association with cancer. Through dysregulation of normal cellular function, high-risk HPV blocks signals for DNA damage, programmed cell death and cellular arrest, all as a part of its viral life cycle.
Our lab studies the mechanism by which high-risk HPV activates telomerase, an enzyme found normally in stem cells that is almost categorically activated in cancers, in order to understand how HPV drives cells to become malignant. We also study how high-risk HPV disrupts the normal regulation of growth and differentiation pathways in its host cells.
Current Research Projects
In June 2014, Dr. Rachel Katzenellenbogen received a five-year, $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to support a project that studies how HPV dysregulates normal cell growth and longevity to engender viral productivity. The project will demonstrate how HPV can serve as a model for universal pathways in cancer development, and will help define critical steps in oncogenesis that might be targets for screening and treatment of HPV-associated cancers.
Through our current research, we hope to better understand how high-risk HPV infections lead to cancer, use HPV as a model of oncogenic progression and use HPV as a model for the life cycles of other DNA tumor viruses.
Dr. Katzenellenbogen is an associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Adolescent Medicine, and an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Global Health at the University of Washington. She is a member of the Center for Global Infectious Disease Research at Seattle Children's Research Institute, where her laboratory is physically located. She is also a member of the pathobiology program in the Department of Global Health; the UW Global Center for Integrated Health of Women, Adolescents and Children (Global WACh); the Pediatric Infectious Disease Training Program; and the Adolescent Medicine Fellowship Program. Katzenellenbogen is an affiliate of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Center for AIDS and STD. She is an emerging expert on the role of post-transcriptional regulation of hTERT; funding for her research is in part supported by the NCI-NIH.