Biochemistry and Structural Biology  Back to Main

Faculty Detail    
Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology
Associate Scientist, O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center
Adjunct Faculty Investigator, HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology
Campus Address RPHB 230L Zip 0022
Phone  (205) 934-7911
Other websites

Medical School  University of Ibadan    1998  M.B.,B.S. (M.D. equivalent) 
Graduate  Harvard University    2007  Ph.D. 

Faculty Appointment(s)
Appointment Type Department Division Rank
Center    Assistant Professor
Center  Center for AIDS Research  Center for AIDS Research Assistant Professor
Center  Comp Arthritis, MSK, Bone & Autoimmunity Ctr  Comp Arthritis, MSK, Bone & Autoimmunity Ctr Assistant Professor
Center  Comprehensive Cancer Center  Comprehensive Cancer Center Assistant Professor
Primary  Epidemiology  Epidemiology Assistant Professor

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Affiliations
Biochemistry and Structural Biology 
Cancer Biology 
Cell, Molecular, & Developmental Biology 
Genetics and Genomic Sciences 
Genetics, Genomics and Bioinformatics 
Integrative Biomedical Sciences 
Medical Scientist Training Program 
Pathobiology and Molecular Medicine 

Biographical Sketch 
Dr. Ojesina obtained his medical degree with Distinction in Biochemistry from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria in 1998. After a stint on the faculty at Ibadan, he obtained his PhD (Biological Sciences in Public Health) at Harvard University in 2007 with his dissertation focused on the molecular epidemiology of antiretroviral response, drug resistance and vertical transmission in HIV-1 infection (PhD mentor: Dr. Phyllis Kanki). Thereafter, he did postdoctoral work in cancer genomics and pathogen discovery under the mentorship of Dr. Matthew Meyerson at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. During this time, he and others in the lab developed computational and experimental methods for the identification of pathogens in next generation sequencing data. He also led the first comprehensive analyses of exome, transcriptome and whole genome sequencing data from cervical carcinomas, leading to the identification of novel E322K mutations in the MAPK1 gene (for the first time in primary human cancers), as well as significantly high expression of genes adjacent to HPV viral integration sites. Dr. Ojesina is one of the leaders of the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Cervical Cancer Analysis Working Group, and he is the Principal Investigator of an Avon Foundation-funded study focused on the analysis of next generation sequencing data to identify known and novel pathogens in breast cancer. Dr. Ojesina has received several honors and awards, including the Rebecca Ridley Kry Fellowship of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (2008-2011), a Research Fellowship from the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (2012-2013), three AACR-GlaxoSmithKline Outstanding Clinical Scholar Awards (2011, 2013, 2014), a Career Development Award from the Johns Hopkins/UAB Cervical Cancer SPORE program (2015-2016), the Angus Cooper Award for Transplant Investigation (2015-2016), a V Foundation Scholar Award funded by the Stuart Scott Medical Research Fund (2015-2017) and V Scholar Plus Award (2018-2019).

Research/Clinical Interest
Interplay of Genomic Alterations and Microbial Influences in Cancer
Broadly, the research in the Ojesina Lab lies at the nexus of translational genomics, integrative molecular epidemiology, oncology, infectious disease, and global health, with a primary focus on infection-related cancers (including HIV-associated malignancies) and women’s cancers. Our investigations integrate next generation sequencing with functional experiments in primary tissues and cell lines into order to address 3 questions: (i) what are the mechanisms that facilitate progression of premalignant tissues to invasive cancer? (ii) how do infections synergize with genomic and transcriptomic alterations in cancer pathogenesis, (iii) why do tumors recur after therapy? We anticipate that this work will have translational impact by facilitating the development of diagnostic biomarkers and predictive models for early detection, prevention and treatment of various cancers, in local and global contexts.

Selected Publications 
Publication PUBMEDID
Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network. Integrated genomic and molecular characterization of cervical cancer. Nature. 2017 Jan 23. doi: 10.1038/nature21386 (co-corresponding author).  28112728 
Arvey A, Ojesina AI, et al. The tumor virus landscape of AIDS-related lymphomas. Blood. 2015 May 14;125(20):e14-22. doi:
Parfenov M, Pedamallu CS, Gehlenborg N, Freeman SS, Danilova L, Bristow CA, Lee S, Hadjipanayis AG, Ivanova EV, Wilkerson MD, Protopopov A, Yang L, Seth S, Song X, Tang J, Ren X, Zhang J, Pantazi A, Santoso N, Xu AW, Mahadeshwar H, Wheeler DA, Haddad RI, Jung J, Ojesina AI, Issaeva N, Yarbrough WG, Hayes DN, Grandis JR, El-Naggar AK, Meyerson M, Park PJ, Chin L, Seidman JG, Hammerman PS, Kucherlapati R; Cancer Genome Atlas Network. Characterization of HPV and host genome interactions in primary head and neck cancers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 28;111(43):15544-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1416074111.  25313082 
Ojesina AI, Lichtenstein L, et al. Landscape of genomic alterations in cervical carcinomas. Nature. 2014 Feb 20;506(7488):371-5. doi: 10.1038/nature12881.   24390348 
Kostic AD, Gevers D, Pedamallu CS, Michaud M, Duke F, Earl AM, Ojesina AI, Jung J, Bass AJ, Tabernero J, Baselga J, Liu C, Shivdasani RA, Ogino S, Birren BW, Huttenhower C, Garrett WS, Meyerson M. Genomic analysis identifies association of Fusobacterium with colorectal carcinoma. Genome Res. 2012 Feb;22(2):292-8. doi: 10.1101/gr.126573.111.   22009990 
Kostic AD, Ojesina AI, Pedamallu CS, Jung J, Verhaak RG, Getz G, Meyerson M. PathSeq: software to identify or discover microbes by deep sequencing of human tissue. Nat Biotechnol. 2011 May;29(5):393-6. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1868.  21552235 

cancer, infection, genomics, transcriptome, HIV, HPV, EBV, cervical, lymphoma, early detection, recurrence, precancerous, progression, mutations, microbiome, viral, RNASeq, diagnostics, therapy, global health, molecular epidemiology, women's health