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Dr. Giuliano

Meet Anna Giuliano, PhD

Director, Center for Immunization and Infection Research in Cancer

"Our particular mission is the prevention of cancer so that nobody ever has to hear that diagnosis."

Dr. Anna Giuliano has a motto: “The most elegant way of approaching anything is to keep it simple.”

Simple interventions to prevent multiple cancers and simpler interventions to enhance the ability to treat patients.

“If I could wave a magic wand I would say let’s prevent as many cancers as we can. That would be the goal.”

Dr. Giuliano, a cancer epidemiologist, has spent most of her career working to do just that.

Links Between Infections and Cancer

When the Center for Immunization and Infection Research in Cancer was created at Moffitt in 2012, the goal was to look for the links between infections and cancer. Infection accounts for close to 20 percent of worldwide cancers.

In Dr. Giuliano’s world of keeping it simple, the key to cancer prevention is vaccines.

Her work has contributed significantly to HPV vaccine protection against multiple cancers in men and women. It’s a worldwide effort that includes collaborators from not only the United States, but also Europe and Latin America.

“The ideal population to vaccinate are people at an age before they ever are exposed to that virus,” says Dr. Giuliano. In the case of HPV, the ideal population is young boys and girls between 11 and 12 years old. The challenge, says Dr. Giuliano, is that healthcare providers and some families are hesitant to vaccinate their children at that age.

“We have a vaccine that prevents cancers. We have a vaccine that prevents multiple cancers. It is very safe. It is very well tolerated and it’s easy to deliver. Why not do it?”

In the United States, cervical cancer cases have decreased because of the awareness of screenings but Dr. Giuliano points out that incidents of oropharyngeal – or middle of the throat – cancer are significantly increasing. “Our hope is that over time we can prevent all of those cancers in both males and females with this [HPV] vaccine.”

For Dr. Giuliano courage comes down to persistence.

It’s the drive and passion from a very deep-rooted belief, says Dr. Giuliano, that what you’re doing is the right thing.

“We are never going to give up on this mission. That is what sustains us.”