HDFCCC Receives U54 Award from National Cancer Institute to Reduce HPV-Associated Cancers in Latin America

The Global Cancer Program at HDFCCC received a U54 award for a partnership with Mexico and Puerto Rico to reduce the risk of HPV-associated cancers in HIV-infected individuals in Latin America.  The Global Cancer Program will partner with the National Cancer Institute and National Institute of Public Health in Mexico and the University of Puerto Rico, to establish The CAlifornia-Mexico-Puerto RicO (“CAMPO”) Collaboration for Prevention of HPV-related cancer in HIV-positive individuals. Together, CAMPO Collaboration will examine innovative approaches to cervical and anal cancer prevention among HIV-positive people in hopes of advancing the field as quickly as possible. This U54 award is part of the National Cancer Institute Division of Cancer Prevention’s US-Latin American-Caribbean Clinical Trials Network (ULACNet) for Prevention of HPV-related Cancers in People Living with HIV.

Dr. Joel Palefsky, Professor of Medicine and Laboratory Medicine and Overall Principal Investigator for the U54 Award, explains the importance of this new research, stating “HPV-related cancers are preventable through a combination of HPV vaccination and screening for and treatment of pre-cancers. The incidence of many HPV-associated cancers is elevated in HIV-positive men and women compared with the general population. Given the high prevalence of both HPV-related cancers and HIV in Latin America, there is a key need to optimize approaches to vaccination, screening and treatment in the region.”

This award reinforces what we believe the Global Cancer Program can accomplish in many parts of the world and is further proof of the power of collaborations – inside UCSF and beyond.”

Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS

President, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

The CAMPO program will be implemented in San Juan, Puerto Rico and Mexico City, Mexico. Together, Dr. Palefsky and Dr. Van Loon, Director of the Global Cancer Program, established the CAMPO Collaboration by leveraging longstanding collaborative relationships with partners in Latin America.  Dr. Van Loon launched a formal partnership with the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute for Public Health in Mexico in 2018.  Her co-Leader in Mexico, Dr. Martin Lajous, comments, “This grant is a recognition of the high quality scientific work on HPV that has been done in Mexico over the past couple of decades and a transformative next step in our growing cancer research partnership.”

The Puerto Rico site leader, Dr. Ana Ortiz Martinez, similarly expresses, “We at the University of Puerto Rico Comprehensive Cancer Center are very excited to collaborate with UCSF and Mexico in this important research program, and continue to strengthen research collaborations between our institutions, which have the potential to benefit patient populations world-wide“.

Dr. Palefsky explains, “In addition to a better understanding of the relatively high prevalence and incidence of HIV and HPV-related cancers among this population in Mexico and Puerto Rico, this [program will also] be relevant to Hispanic populations living in the mainland US. CAMPO provides an opportunity to explore the role of genetics and local factors such as diet in pathogenesis of HPV-related cancers in HIV-positive men and women.” 


The award will be managed through the Global Cancer Program at the HDFCCC. “Many of the challenges in performing global research can only be successfully addressed with an infrastructure focused specifically on supporting research in the local context. The partnerships that Dr. Van Loon developed in Mexico were a natural fit for the CAMPO submission,” explains Palefsky. “The staff of the program were invaluable in the application process, [and] the GCP offers a critical array of support services to enable successful implementation of this complex international research program.”

Dr. Alan Ashworth, President of the UCSF HDFCCC, shares his enthusiasm for the new award, saying, “It was terrific to visit Mexico earlier this year and see firsthand the impact of UCSF’s partnership. This award reinforces what we believe the Global Cancer Program can accomplish in many parts of the world and is further proof of the power of collaborations – inside UCSF and beyond.”