The People of Tulane Cancer Center Research

Laura LevyLaura S. Levy, PhD
Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
Vice-President for Research, Tulane University
Associate Director of the Tulane Cancer Center
Tulane Cancer Center Program Member

Contact Information
Phone: 504-988-2083
Address: 1430 Tulane Ave., Box SL-38, New Orleans, LA 70112-2699

Biographical Narrative
The primary theme of Dr. Levy's research is retroviral pathogenesis and the induction of malignancy. The early stages of human cancer are very difficult to study, generally because it is difficult or impossible to predict the onset of the malignant process, or to monitor the transformed cells. Viruses that induce tumors in animal model systems offer a unique opportunity to study early events in the malignant process, often because a specific type of tumor is reliably produced. For example, certain retroviruses induce malignant tumors of lymphoid origin in the natural host, and provide excellent models to study the cascade of events in the malignant process. Dr. Levy's lab has utilized retroviruses to study the molecular pathogenesis of malignant change in three animal model systems: (1) infection of the domestic cat, a naturally outbreeding population, with feline leukemia virus (FeLV), (2) infection of the laboratory inbred mouse with murine leukemia virus (MuLV), and (3) the induction of immunodeficiency disease in the rhesus macaque following infection with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Their studies and others have shown that the retrovirally-mediated induction of lymphoid malignancy is a complex and multistep process involving prolonged interaction between the virus and the host. Their specific research objectives are to identify the cooperating events involved in the host-virus interaction, the mechanisms of their interaction, and their influence in the malignant process. A summary of their major findings and objectives follows:

  • Their studies have linked a distinct set of genetic features of the virus and the host with the induction of particular types of malignancy. Studies are in progress to establish the functions and relationship of these genetic factors to the malignant process.
  • They have examined immune interactions that occur during chronic retroviral infection, particularly in the context of the developing lymphoma, in order to understand how malignant tumors may be shielded from immune recognition and destruction. The results of these studies will be considered in the context of developing novel preventative or therapeutic strategies.
  • Their studies have shown that lymphoma in the SIV-infected rhesus macaque recapitulates the primary pathobiological features of AIDS-associated lymphoma (AAL). Their objective is to utilize these findings to develop new therapeutic or preventative approaches to AAL.

Selected Publications
Habis A, Baskin GB, Murphey-Corb M, Levy LS. Simian AIDS-associated lymphoma in rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys recapitulates the primary pathobiological features of AIDS-associated non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. AIDS Res Human Retrovir 15: 1389-1398 (1999)

Prabhu S, Lobelle-Rich PA, Levy LS. The FeLV-945 LTR confers a replicative advantage dependent on the presence of a tandem triplication. Virology 263: 460-470 (1999)

Habis A, Baskin GB, Simpson L, Fortgang I, Murphey-Corb M, Levy LS. Rhesus lymphocryptovirus infection during the progression of SAIDS and SAIDS-associated lymphoma in the rhesus macaque. AIDS Res Human Retrovir 16: 163-171 (2000)

Rulli K, Lobelle-Rich PA, Trubetskoy A, Lenz J, Levy LS. Tissue distribution and timing of appearance of polytropic envelope recombinants during infection with SL3-3 MuLV or its weakly pathogenic mutant SL3-delta-Myb5. J Virol 75: 522-526 (2001)

Fortgang I, Rege T, Baskin GB, Murphey-Corb M, Levy LS. Variation in simian immunodeficiency virus env V1 region in SAIDS-associated lymphoma. AIDS Res Human Retrovir 17:459-465 (2001)

Additional publications and abstracts



1430 Tulane Ave, New Orleans, LA 70112