Division of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology
School of Public Health, 16 Barker Hall
University of California
Berkeley, CA 94720-7354
Speaker’s URL: http://sph.berkeley.edu/faculty/buehring.php
LECTURE TOPICS AND DESCRIPTIONS
Is Human Breast Cancer Caused by a Bovine Virus?
The portion of all human cancer cases caused by viruses is estimated to be 18-20%. The list of proven human cancer viruses is six, with others on the waiting list. How does one prove that a virus causes cancer and how difficult is it? Dr. Buehring, Professor of virology at the University of California, Berkeley, discusses the epidemiologic criteria for determining causal association. She shares her personal agonies and ecstasies in applying these criteria to establish the unconventional possibility that an animal virus (bovine leukemia virus) could cause a human cancer (breast cancer).
Viruses that Cause Human Cancer: How Do We Establish the Causation?
The portion of all human cancer cases caused by viruses is
estimated to be 18-20%. The list of
proven human cancer viruses is six, with others on the waiting list. How does one prove that a virus causes cancer
and how difficult is it? Dr. Buehring, Professor
of virology at the University of California, Berkeley,
discusses the epidemiologic criteria for proving viral causation of cancer and
the six established human cancer viruses.
She shares her personal experience with this type of high risk/high
payoff research by presenting her own research on the association of bovine
leukemia virus with human breast cancer.
Gertrude C. Buehring, Ph.D. is a Professor of virology in
the Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology Division of the School
of Public Health at the University of California,
Berkeley. Her research goal is to uncover a viral agent
of breast cancer, and for the past 20 years she has been pursuing bovine
leukemia virus (BLV) as a suspect. This
virus causes widespread infection in cattle and is harbored within their milk
and blood cells. Breast cancer incidence
is highest in countries with the greatest consumption of milk and dairy
products. Her research group has made
several important discoveries about BLV that support its plausibility as a
breast cancer virus: It infects the
breast epithelium of cattle (it was previously thought to infect only
lymphocytes); it is hormone responsive; and it inhibits DNA repair, which may
be its mechanism of transforming cells from normal to malignant. Her group also established that ≈40% of
humans have antibodies to BLV, and that BLV DNA is present in breast tissue and
associated with breast cancer. She has
received several honorary awards for her research, including the Cornelius
Hopper and Otto Sartorius awards for excellence in breast cancer research, and
a Fulbright Scholar Award for research/teaching in Costa Rica. She teaches Public Health Microbiology
(PH162A) and Viruses and Human Cancer (PH266).
Dr. Buehring worked several years as a licensed clinical laboratory
scientist before earning her Ph.D. in genetics at the University
of California, Berkeley.
ASM MEMBERSHIP AFFILIATION
Primary Division Y Public Health
Secondary Division T RNA Viruses