University of Rochester

University of Rochester Vaccine Developers Take On Student Questions

November 27, 2006

Two of the three University of Rochester researchers behind the technology in a vaccine that is proven to prevent a specific type of cancer will meet with University students to answer questions about a potentially deadly virus and how to prevent it.

Dr. William Bonnez, an associate professor of medicine, and Robert Rose, an associate professor of medicine, will be talking about the prevalent sexually transmitted disease human papillomavirus, known as HPV, its link to cervical cancer, and the new preventative cancer vaccine. The discussion will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4, in Hoyt Hall on the University's River Campus.

Ultimately, the presentation will address questions about the virus and raise awareness of preventative measures, but it will also help foster the relationship between our very own world-renown researchers and the students—on the other side of Elmwood Ave.—who benefit from their work.

And all it took to get the vaccine developers to meet with students was an e-mail.

Carrie Bukowski, a sophomore and a student assistant at University Health Service, contacted the vaccine developers and asked if they would lead a discussion on the topic. Within the next day the researchers had agreed to come and discuss HPV and the new vaccine called Gardasil, which was developed by Merck.

"I think it's very important to get the information out there. The awareness has risen, but it still has a way to go," Rose said. "We're naturally inclined to talk about it, so we are really appreciative of the opportunity."

Of the more than 130 known types of HPV, two types are believed to cause 70 percent of the cervical cancers diagnosed worldwide. Every year, the disease kills 250,000 women worldwide, 3,700 of those are American lives. Without the vaccine – most women, before they hit their 30s, will acquire a HPV infection once they are sexually active, Rose said.