Dr. Underbrink's research interests involve the study of HPV infection of the head and neck. HPV infection causes respiratory papillomatosis (types 6 and 11) and is a causative agent for a subset of head and neck carcinomas (high risk types 16, 18, 31, 33, etc.). The viral oncogenes, E6 and E7, dysregulate the cell cycle, inhibit apoptosis, and promote abnormal cell growth during the course of an infection. Persistent infection of the cervical epithelium with high risk HPVs is associated with nearly 100% of cervical carcinomas and a subset of oropharyngeal carcinomas. Persistent infection of low risk HPV in laryngeal epithelium leads to respiratory papillomatosis in both pediatric and adult patients. His lab is currently determining the molecular interactions of HPV viral oncogenes within primary keratinocyte cell cultures and patient tissue samples to investigate novel therapies for the treatment of these infections within the upper aerodigestive tract.