Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Research Assistant Professor
Microbiology & Immunology
1997-1998 Post Doc, University of California
1998-2000 Post Doc, Medical University of South Carolina
1995 Ph.D., University of Toronto
My post-graduate work involved the development of adenoviral and adeno-associated virus vector for gene therapy of genetic diseases and cancer.
I am interested in the interactions between exogenous and endogenous viruses that may play a role in head and neck carcinogenesis. Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) are exogenous tumor viruses associated with 20 to 30% of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas (OSCC), and virtually all undifferentiated nasopharyngeal carcinomas (NPC), respectively. We discovered that both HPV and EBV transactivate a superantigen encoded within the envelope gene of human endogenous retrovirus HERV-K18 on chromosome 1. Superantigens are viral or bacterial proteins that elicit strong T-cell activation and cytokine production. NPC are often associated with extensive T-cell infiltrates that promote rather than inhibit tumor growth, while little is known about the T-cell response to HPV+ OSCC. We postulate that the HERV-K18 superantigen contributes to T-cell pathology in the tumor microenvironment, and consequently, to tumor progression in NPC and HPV+ OSCC. We are developing in vitro and in vivo models to evaluate the impact of superantigen activated T-cells on carcinogenesis. Accordingly, we have set up an in vitro system for immortalizing primary human tonsil (oropharyngeal) and adenoid (nasopharyngeal) epithelial cells, and are developing potential therapeutic agents to control HERV-K18 activated T-cells.
Recent Publications | Additional Publications
Gillespie MB, Smith J, Gibbs K, McRackan T, Rubinchik S, Day TA, Sutkowski N. (2008) Human papillomavirus and head and neck cancer: a growing concern. J S C Med Assoc 104(8):247-51. Review. PMID: 19326612
Gillespie MB, Rubinchik S, Hoel B, Sutkowski N. (2009) Human papillomavirus and oropharyngeal cancer: what you need to know in 2009. Curr Treat Options Oncol 10(5-6):296-307. Epub 2009 Sep 19. Review. PMID: 19768554
White-Gilbertson S, Rubinchik S, Voelkel-Johnson C. (2008) Transformation, translation and TRAIL: an unexpected intersection. Cytokine Growth Factor Rev 19(2):167-72. Review. PMID: 18353705
Liu X, Elojeimy S, Turner LS, Mahdy AE, Zeidan YH, Bielawska A, Bielawski J, Dong JY, El-Zawahry AM, Guo GW, Hannun YA, Holman DH, Rubinchik S, Szulc Z, Keane TE, Tavassoli M, Norris JS. (2008) Acid ceramidase inhibition: a novel target for cancer therapy. Front Biosci 13:2293-8. Review. PMID: 17981711