Photo of Douglas Lowy

Douglas Lowy

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Medicine
For developing the virus-like particles and related technologies that led to the generation of effective vaccines that specifically targeted HPV and related cancers.

Doulgas Lowy on his favorite hobby

Douglas R. Lowy has researched cancers for more than 40 years; he’s also helped prevent them.

Lowy, the acting director of the National Cancer Institute, developed the virus-like particles and related technologies that led to the generation of a vaccine for the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer.

The discovery was born from a research collaboration with John T. Schiller, another National Science and Technology Medal recipient, with whom Lowy has co-authored more than 125 papers over their 30-year research partnership.

In the 1980s, the duo studied the genetic organization of the viruses and identified the oncogenes—genes that have the potential to cause cancer—encoded by the virus. More recently, they focused their attention on HPV vaccines and the life cycle of the virus.

As a result, there are now three U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved HPV vaccines on the market, and according to a recent study[SD2] , the rate of infection in teenage girls has been reduced by almost two-thirds.

By Sydni Dunn