Ojesina Lab

The big picture goal of the Ojesina Oncopathogenomics Laboratory is to investigate the underlying causes of cancer to identify better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

Specifically, we investigate tumors as an ecosystem in which microbes (viruses, bacteria, etc) synergize with genomic alterations to influence tumor initiation, progression, response to therapy and prognosis. This knowledge gained using this “tumor ecology” paradigm will then be translated into improvements in cancer prevention, diagnosis and therapy.

In order to answer these questions, we apply a combination of cutting-edge genomic analyses and laboratory experiments to interrogate relevant population-based patient samples, laboratory cell lines and animal models. Although we are interested in a wide variety of cancers, our primary focus is on infection-related cancers, HPV-associated squamous cell carcinomas and women’s cancers like breast cancer and cervical cancer (Nature 2014;506:371, Nature 2017;543:378, Nature Genetics 2020;52:800, Cancers 2021;13:4551, npj Genomic Medicine 2021;6:82).

Ongoing and future projects include:

  • Genomic and functional characterization of molecular drivers of women’s cancers
    We have identified novel molecular factors that facilitate cancers across three kingdoms (human, viral and bacterial) and identified putative therapeutic targets. We have also performed comprehensive molecular classification of infection-related cancers.
  • Biology and therapy of atypical cervical cancers
    Our goal is to eradicate all cervical cancers. Therefore, we seek to complement and build upon the great advances made in cervical cancer prevention with screening and HPV vaccination. We are therefore investigating oft-ignored atypical and less understood subsets of cervical cancer, e.g. HPV-independent cervical cancers, tumors with extrachromosomal HPV and mucinous cervical carcinomas
  • Role of tumor microbiome in cancer initiation, progression, therapy response and prognosis
    We are investigating tumor metatranscriptomics and host-microbe interactions in cancer, as well as the effect of bacteria and their products on cancer metabolism.
  • Novel microbe discovery in cancer and other chronic diseases
    We have co-developed a computational subtraction tool, PathSeq, for identifying microbial sequences in high throughput sequencing data. We are applying this techniques to wide range of human disease tissues in order to identify novel pathign3e4s in cancer and other chronic diseases.
    Our research lies at the nexus of translational genomics, metatranscriptomics, integrative molecular epidemiology, precision oncology, virology, tumor microbiome, immunotherapy and global health. We anticipate that our work will have translational impact by facilitating the development of diagnostic biomarkers and predictive models for early detection, prevention and treatment of various cancers, in local and global contexts.
Ojesina, Akinyemi I., MD,

Assistant Professor
Research & Advanced Education

Kumar, Roshan, PhD

Postdoc Fellow - Dr. Janet S. Rader’s Lab and Dr. Akinyemi Ojesina's Lab

Duyar, Susan 07062022MCWOBGYN-3
Susan Duyar, MD

GynOnc Fellow Class of 2025
Specialty: Gynecologic Oncology

Principal Investigator Sponsor Project Title Award Date
Rader, Janet S., MD, FACOG NIH Cancer Institute R- Enlisting HPV integration events to illuminate drivers and target treatment in invasive cervical cancer 7/1/2022 6/30/2027
PI: Rader, Janet S., MD, FACOG
Co-PIs: Peterson, Erika, MDPalatnik, Anna, MD, Kaljo, Kristina, PhD, Kristine Graetinger, MD, Jackie Peebles, MD,
Advancing Healthier Wisconsin Addressing maternal health disparities from preconception to postpartum 7/1/2023 12/31/2024
Rader, Janet S., MD, FACOG and Kaljo, Kristina, PhD NIH Cancer Institute Student-Centered Pipeline to Advance Research in Cancer Careers (SPARCC) for Underrepresented Minority Students 9/1/2018 8/31/2023