Gabriel J. Starrett, Ph.D.

Gabriel J. Starrett, Ph.D.

  • Center for Cancer Research
  • National Cancer Institute
Laboratory of Cellular Oncology


Our group studies the contributions of tumor viruses, including polyomaviruses and papillomaviruses, to the development of cancer using sequencing, bioinformatics and classical wet bench molecular biology. Primarily, we are exploring the mechanisms through which these viruses trigger instability of the host cell genome that leads to integration of the viral genome and mutagenesis by APOBEC3 enzymes.

Areas of Expertise

Cancer Biology


Selected Key Publications

Clinical and molecular characterization of virus-positive and virus-negative Merkel cell carcinoma

Starrett GJ, Thakuria M, Chen T, Marcelus C, Cheng J, Nomburg J, Thorner AR, Slevin MK, Powers W, Burns RT, Perry C, Piris A, Kuo FC, Rabinowits G, Giobbie-Hurder A, MacConaill LE, DeCaprio JA.
Genome Med.. 12(1):: 30, 2020. [ Journal Article ]

Polyomavirus T-Antigen Induces APOBEC3B Expression using a LXCXE-Dependent and TP53-Independent Mechanism

Starrett GJ, Serebrenik AA, Roelofs PA, Verhalen B, McCann JL, Jarvis MC, Stewart TA, Law EK, Krupp A, Jiang M, Martens JWM, Span PN, Cahir-McFarland E, Harris RS.
mBio. 10: e02690-18, 2019. [ Journal Article ]

Merkel Cell Polyomavirus Exhibits Dominant Control of the Tumor Genome and Transcriptome in Virus-Associated Merkel Cell Carcinoma

Starrett GJ, Marcelus C, Cantalupo PG, Katz JP, Cheng J, Akagi K, Thakuria M, Rabinowits G, Wang LC, Symer D, Pipas JM, Harris RS, DeCaprio JA.
mBio. 8: e02079-16, 2017. [ Journal Article ]

Functional upregulation of the DNA cytosine deaminase APOBEC3B by polyomaviruses

Starrett GJ, Verhalen B, Harris RS, Jiang M.
Journal of Virology. 90: 6379-6386, 2016. [ Journal Article ]

Host-Pathogen Interactions in Human Polyomavirus 7‒Associated Pruritic Skin Eruption

Rosenstein RK, Pastrana DV, Starrett GJ, Sapio MR, Hill NT, Jo JH, Lee CR, Iadarola MJ, Buck CB, Kong HH, Brownell I, Cowen EW.
J Invest Dermatol.. 141(5):: 1344-1348.e8, 2021. [ Journal Article ]

Job Vacancies

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Graduate Student, Comparative Biomedical Scientist Training Program
Helena Vogel, D.V.M.


Bringing the Pieces Together: CCR-DCEG FLEX Awards. Read about our collaboration with Dr. Eric Engels (DCEG) studying bladder cancers of solid organ transplant recipients and the potential role of viruses in oncogenesis.