Through excellence in cancer research, education, and community engagement, the Partnership between the University of Puerto Rico and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center aims to reduce health disparities derived from infection-driven malignancies in Texas and Puerto Rico, and increase the number of Hispanics pursuing careers in cancer research.


PMB 371 PO Box 70344 San Juan, PR 00936-8344

(787) 758-2525 Ext. (2244)

Development of Miniature Induction Heaters for Cancer Treatment
Eduardo Juan (PI) & Madeline Torres Lugo (Co-PI)

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Partnerships for Innovation – Technology Translation (PFI-TT) project is the development of novel, miniature, induction-heating devices for medical applications. More specifically, the broader impact of the project lies in the availability of smaller, more focused magnetic field applicators that can be used in patients with metallic implants (i.e., hip replacement implants, stents, etc.) that would otherwise be ineligible to receive magnetic nanoparticle-based cancer therapies. Magnetic nanoparticle-based cancer treatments require the development of new medical procedures requiring in situ, non-contact heating of electrically conductive materials in hard to reach places within the human body. The project will also provide education and leadership development in innovation and entrepreneurship to the faculty, postdoctoral scholar, and students involved in the proposed activities. The proposed project envisions the design, development, characterization, and testing of a series of miniature, induction-heating devices for medical applications. Such devices may be used in magnetic fluid hyperthermia (MFH) prostate cancer treatment. The value proposition of the technology lies in offering patients with metallic implants near the pelvis the possibility of undergoing MFH prostate cancer therapy. The intellectual merit of the proposed research encompasses the development of magnetic field generators that do not currently exist and that may allow a more localized MFH prostate cancer therapy due to the ability to heat electrically conductive materials in hard-to-reach places within the human body. The team will determine the capabilities of the proposed technology in heating magnetic nanoparticles to kill cancer cells in vitro and determine the devices’ capabilities in heating magnetic nanoparticles to ablate porcine tissues and estimate the severity and extent of tissue damage under different operating conditions.

California-Mexico-Puerto Rico Partnership (CAMPO) Center for Prevention of HPV-related Cancer in HIV+ Populations
Ana P. Ortiz (Co-PI)

The California-Mexico-Puerto Rico (CAMPO) Consortium will perform three clinical research studies focused on the prevention of cervical cancer among HIV-positive women in Mexico and Puerto Rico. Study 1 will examine new screening algorithms for cervical high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) in 4000 HIV-positive women in Mexico and Puerto Rico. This study will evaluate triage strategies that include liquid-based cytology, point-of-care genotyping for high-risk HPV DNA, E6/7 oncoprotein expression, and viral and host methylation to detect cervical HSIL among HIV-positive women. We hypothesize that a test with high sensitivity, followed by a test with high specificity, will provide for optimal sensitivity, specificity and predictive value for cervical HSIL in this population. We will also screen 1000 HIVpositive men who have sex with men (MSM) for anal HSIL to identify men with anal HSIL for our HSIL treatment studies (Studies 2 and 3) and evaluate anal HSIL screening algorithms using the same tests as those being done in the cervix. Through the cases of cervical and anal HSIL identified in these screening studies, the CAMPO Consortium will also develop and implement two randomized placebo-controlled treatment studies for HSIL. Study 2 will evaluate the impact of anogenital probiotic use on anal and cervical microbiota profiles and the relationship to anal and cervical HSIL regression in 600 HIV-positive women and men as well as reduction of high-risk HPV DNA persistence among those with no lesions. Study 3 will evaluate the safety and efficacy of a multivalent replication-defective adenovirus-based therapeutic HPV vaccine to treat cervical and anal HSIL in 300 HIV-positive women and men and identify immune response correlates of HSIL regression. Together, the proposed studies aim to develop novel strategies for cervical and anal cancer prevention for HIV-positive adults. The CAMPO Consortium will include three Cores to support the implementation of the Clinical Trials Program: (1) a Central Laboratory Core; (2) a Data Management and Statistical Core; and (3) an Administrative and Coordinating Core. Furthermore, investigators within the CAMPO Consortium will provide mentorship to support early career investigators from Mexico and Puerto Rico, fostering the next generation of cancer researchers focused on HPV-related cancers and HIV with the region. Through its unique combination of innovative science with research capacity-building and mentorship, we expect the CAMPO Consortium to have a substantial impact on cervical and anal cancer prevention efforts in the Latin American and Caribbean region.

Implementation of School – entry Policies for Human Papilloma Virus
Vivian Colon (PI)

Despite the availability of prophylactic vaccines against HPV, modest increases in vaccination coverage among adolescents has been reported. In Puerto Rico (PR), where disparities in incidence, mortality, and survival of HPV-related cancers have been extensively documented, vaccination rates are low. The PR government recently enacted a policy to require HPV vaccination for all adolescents’ ages 11-12 years who enroll in schools, beginning the next academic year (2018-2019). PR became the 5th US state or territory to adopt an HPV vaccine school-entry policy. Taking into account this important public policy implementation, the proposed study aims to examine geographic variation in the dissemination and implementation of HPV vaccine policies across US states and territories, while taking advantage of the timely opportunity to study the implementation and outcomes of the new school-entry HPV policy in PR in depth. This study will use a multi-method approach to analyze survey data, immunization registry data, and qualitative data using a combination of qualitative, correlational, comparative case study, multilevel analysis and natural experiment designs. Additionally, and in collaboration with our local and national partners, the study findings and recommendations will be disseminated back to stakeholders and decision makers to inform the ongoing evolution of the policy implementation in PR and other states with existing policies, and to inform states/territories that are considering adopting a new HPV vaccine school entry policy. Our research team is uniquely positioned to be able to carry this important and time-sensitive study given our long track record and existing collaborations with local and national academic partners and coalitions focusing on HPV vaccination. If granted, this project will serve to inform other states and territories considering HPV immunization policies and future implementation research on these policies.