The human papilloma virus (HPV) infects thousands of men and women each year. Symptoms seldom appear, but for women it remains a potential threat later in life. Under certain conditions, its presence can suggest a higher risk of cervical cancer.

Because it serves as an example of a link between viruses and cancer, HPV was chosen as the topic of a symposium in December to honor Francesc Duran i Reynals, M.D., one of the first researchers to explore cancer’s viral origins. Duran i Reynals was a member of the Yale faculty from 1938 until his death from cancer in 1958. The Francesc Duran i Reynals Symposium, sponsored by the Yale Cancer Center, commemorated the centenary of the physician’s birth in Barcelona in 1899.

While still a medical student in Spain, Duran i Reynals joined the microbiology laboratory of renowned researcher Ramon Turro. In 1925, Duran i Reynals became the first Spanish scientist to culture bacterial viruses. He became convinced that viruses could cause cancer and secured a fellowship at Rockefeller University to pursue his research. His work there and in New Haven shaped the study of tumor biology.

Speakers at the symposium included José Costa, M.D., professor and vice chair of pathology; Josep M. Borras, M.D., director of the Catalan Institute of Oncology; Xavier Bosch, M.D., chief of epidemiology service at the Catalan Institute of Oncology; Daniel DiMaio, M.D., professor and vice chair of genetics; and Carlos Cordon-Cardo, M.D., director of the Division of Molecular Pathology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dean David A. Kessler offered closing remarks for the symposium, which was attended by members and friends of the Duran i Reynals family.