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Willie Hughes

Willie Hughes

Graduate Student
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Willie Hughes is a Graduate Student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL), School of Biological Sciences, where he works with the Nebraska Center for Virology (NCV). He is seeking a doctorate of philosophy in Virology. Upon completion of his PhD, he plans to advocate international virology-based education and to work closely with the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC).

Willie received a Bachelor of Science degree from Stetson University in 2004, with a major in Molecular Biology. Now a doctoral student at UNL, he works in Dr. Peter Angeletti’s lab. Willie’s research focuses on the encapsidation process of Human Papillomavirus 16 (HPV-16), which is a cancer causing agent of epithelial cells of the skin (warts) and those lining the anogenital tract and esophagus. The encapsidation process involves the packaging of genetic material within a core to preserve and protect the HPV-16 from damage. He has used yeast and mammalian cells to gain many insights to the encapsidation process. Willie’s research has led him to the discovery of an interaction between a regulatory protein and major capsid protein, and has contributed sufficient time to determining the degree of involvement and necessity to HPV-16 formation. His work with HPV has given him the opportunity to work with different levels of biosafety, all the way to Biosafety Level 3 pathogens (considered to be the “warm” zone).