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Professor Margaret Stanley OBE


Department of Pathology:
Professor of Epithelial Biology

Research Interests

Pathogenesis of Human Papillomavirus Infections

The papillomaviruses are a large group of pathogens which infect skin and mucous membranes where they induce a spectrum of proliferative disorders from warts to cancer. A subgroup of human papillomavirus (HPV) types, particularly HPV 16 and 18 and their relatives, is closely associated with the development of certain human cancers, most notably cervical cancer. This raises the possibility that intervention in the natural history of HPV infection in the genital tract by prevention or treatment could have a major impact on this cancer, the second commonest malignancy in women in the world.

The ways in which the cell may control the life cycle of the virus and conversely how the virus may exert effects on the growth and differentiation of the host cell are still tantalising mysteries. The contribution of the immune response to papillomavirus infection can greatly affect the degree and duration of disease. Understanding the ways in which the immune system develops a response to the human papillomavirus is important if effective vaccines against viral-associated disease are to be produced.

A phase of dysplastic growth of the genital epithelium can precede invasive cancer and is frequently associated with human papillomavirus infection. A search for the cellular and viral changes that could control the progression of neoplastic disease forms another area of research focus.

Margaret is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and has a lifetime award from the International Papillomavirus Society.


DNA viruses


  • vaccines
  • cervical cancer
  • cancer
  • human papillomavirus

Key Publications

Stanley MA. Epithelial cell responses to infection with human papillomavirus. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2012 25:215-22.

Stanley MA.  Genital human papillomavirus infections: current and prospective therapies. J Gen Virol. 2012 93(Pt 4):681-91.

Crawford R, Grignon AL, Kitson S, Winder DM, Ball SL, Vaughan K, Stanley MA, Sterling JC, Goon PK. High prevalence of HPV in non-cervical sites of women with abnormal cervical cytology. BMC Cancer. 2011 11:473.

Ball SL, Winder DM, Vaughan K, Hanna N, Levy J, Sterling JC, Stanley MA, Goon PK. Analyses of human papillomavirus genotypes and viral loads in anogenital warts. J Med Virol. 2011 83:1345-1350.

Sudhoff HH, Schwarze HP, Winder D, Steinstraesser L, Görner M, Stanley M, Goon PK. Evidence for a causal association for HPV in head and neck cancers. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2011 Nov;268(11):1541-7.

The beautiful structure of HPV virus (above) and the more immunogenic virus-like particles used as vaccine, consisting over over-expressed viral coat protein (below)