Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
BS awarded 12/1980 Microbiology/Chemistry

University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
PhD awarded 12/1985 Virology - Immunology

US Centers for Disease Control, National Research Council
1986-1987 Molecular Epidemiology Infectious Diseases Fellow

Dr. Wheeler joined the University of New Mexico faculty in 1988. Her scientific efforts over the past 35 years exemplify her long-standing recognition of the importance of multidisciplinary approaches in the evaluation and delivery of medical innovation to the public with a focus on cancer prevention. Dr. Wheeler is the founding director of the New Mexico HPV Pap Registry (NMHPVPR), established in 2006 as the nation’s only statewide cancer screening registry. The NMHPVPR information systems traverse the continuum of cervical cancer prevention across screening, diagnosis and treatment and transcend payers, healthcare systems, clinics, providers and patients collecting woman-based information across the entire state of New Mexico. The NMHPVPR employs novel approach to standardizing and integrating disparate data sources and uses natural language parsing. Dr. Wheeler is committed to pragmatic real-world cost-saving approaches to target rapid delivery of new diagnostic indications to the public with expediency.

Personal Statement

Peer Reviewed Publications

I bring a broad knowledge base in molecular epidemiology, molecular diagnostic development, public health, as well training of graduate, post-graduate and junior scientists through several NIH-funded RO-1 awards and Cooperative Research Centers I have been the PI of. With a long-standing solid track record of delivering large population-based multi- disciplinary programs addressing the translational spectrum of cancer etiology, diagnosis and prevention over more than 30 years, my group has contributed to cooperative research programs spanning from T0 toT4 outlined briefly as follows: 1) characterizing both host and viral genetic risk factors of cervical cancer outcomes; 2) characterizing environmental risk factors including smoking, hormones and nutrition while considering race/ethnicity and behaviors modifying the risk of disease outcomes; 3) understanding and characterizing the world-wide population-based distribution and phylogeny of a broad spectrum of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) infecting the human lower genital tract; 4) characterizing the utility of biomarkers of risk for diagnosis and triage of cervical precancer and cancer; 5) developing diagnostic assays and international HPV DNA standards for the World Health Organization to support monitoring of global HPV vaccine implementation in middle and lower income countries; 6) leading North American efforts for phase I to III clinical trials for bivalent and quadrivalent HPV vaccines and understanding vaccine co-administration, cross protection and dosing schedules; 7) contributing to local, national and international programs and policies for cancer screening; 8) formative research to understand women’s attitudes and beliefs around primary and secondary cervical cancer prevention; 9) founding and funding a population-based electronic surveillance system, the New Mexico HPV Pap Registry (NMHPVPR) which under state mandate receives reports of all cervical Paps, cervical, vulvar and vaginal pathology and HPV testing to define screening practices and outcomes in the opportunistic cervical screening delivery across New Mexico’s including screening, diagnosis and treatment; 10) working to establish groundwork with the New Mexico Department of Health to establish a colorectal screening information system using the NMHPVPR surveillance model; and 11) assessing implementation, impact and effectiveness of HPV vaccines against HPV-related outcomes including abnormal Pap tests and pre-cancer diagnoses while continuously monitoring changing cancer screening practices. I currently the PI of an FDA-regulated evaluation using the NMHPVPR longitudinal data and research-related research specimen resources to approve a new HPV diagnostic indication. My experience as PI of various NIH cooperative centers over decades offers a long- standing recognition of the importance of multidisciplinary approaches in the evaluation and delivery of cancer prevention implementing evidence into policy and practice.

Areas of Specialty

human papillomaviruses
health informatics
translational medicine
public health surveillance

Achievements & Awards

2015 Honoree, Outstanding Achievement in Advancing Quality Healthcare for Women and Children, Southwest Women’s Law Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico

2014- The Victor and Ruby Hansen Surface Endowed Chair in Translational Medicine and Public Health Sciences

2012 & 2013 Workshop Co-Chair, President Obama’s Cancer Panel

2008- University of New Mexico, Regents Professorship

2008 Thomson Reuters Science Watch - Ranked 7th in World for # of Human Papillomavirus peer-reviewed citations in past decade

2006 Distinguished Scientific Achievement Award, American Society of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology

2001-2006 Leader, World Health Organization (WHO) International HPV DNA Standards Development & First Global Evaluation - WHO Reference Laboratories and National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)

1992-94 Fellow, American Social Health Association (ASHA)

1986-87 Research Associate, National Research Council (NRC), Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Program

1985 American Society for Virology (ASV) Research Award

1981-84 Graduate Fellow - National Science Foundation (NSF), Molecular Biology Awardee

Key Publications

Journal Article
Castle, P, E Kinney, W, K Chen, L, Kim, J, J Jenison, S, Rossi, G, Kang, Huining, Cuzick, J, Wheeler, Cosette, 2021 Adherence to National Guidelines on Cervical Screening: A Population-Based Evaluation from a Statewide Registry. Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Journal Article
Torres-Ibarra, L, Lorincz, A, T Wheeler, Cosette, Cuzick, J, Hernández-López, R, Spiegelman, D, León-Maldonado, L, Rivera-Paredez, B, Méndez-Hernández, P, Lazcano-Ponce, E, Salmerón, J, 2021 Adjunctive testing by cytology, p16/Ki-67 dual-stained cytology or HPV16/18 E6 oncoprotein for the management of HPV16/18 screen-positive women. International journal of cancer, vol. 148, Issue 9, 2264-2273
Journal Article
Banila, C, Lorincz, A, T Scibior-Bentkowska, D, Clifford, G, M Kumbi, B, Beyene, D, Wheeler, Cosette, Cuschieri, K, Cuzick, J, Nedjai, B, 2021 Clinical performance of methylation as a biomarker for cervical carcinoma in?situ and cancer diagnosis: A worldwide study. International journal of cancer
Journal Article
Tota, J, E Struyf, F, Hildesheim, A, Gonzalez, P, Ryser, M, Herrero, R, Schussler, J, Karkada, N, Rodriguez, A, C Folschweiller, N, Porras, C, Schiffman, M, Schiller, J, T Quint, W, Kreimer, A, R 2021 Efficacy of AS04-Adjuvanted Vaccine Against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Types 16 and 18 in Clearing Incident HPV Infections: Pooled Analysis of Data From the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial and the PATRICIA Study. The Journal of infectious diseases, vol. 223, Issue 9, 1576-1581




  • English

Research and Scholarship

After a postdoctoral experience at the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) where Dr. Robert Rando and I started the first CDC laboratory efforts in HPV and cervical cancer in 1986, I was looking to continue work on the etiology and risk factors for cervical cancer. The Hispanic and American Indians of New Mexico suffered high levels of poverty and disparities in cervical cancer with incidence rates 2.5 and 3 times that of Non-Hispanic Whites respectively. I was afforded the opportunity to join the epidemiology and cancer control group led by Dr.Jon Samet and began working with Dr. Tom Becker where we performed early case-control studies of epidemiologic risks for cervical dysplasia. Through a strong collaboration with Dr. Henry Erlich, we were among the first to identify HLA associations for cervical precancer & cancer. In addition we were the first to report race-related HPV variant associations in a collaboration with our colleagues at University of Washington. HPV variants continue to this day as potential targets for diagnosis and therapeutics.
Apple RJ, Erlich HA, Klitz W, Manos MM, Becker TM, Wheeler CM. (1991). HLA DR-DQ associations with cervical carcinoma show papillomavirus-type specificity. Nat Genet, 6(2), 157-162. PMID: 8162070.
Becker TM, Wheeler CM, McGough NS, Parmenter CA, Jordan SW, Stidely CA, McPherson RS, Dorin MH. (1994). Sexually transmitted diseases and other risk factors for cervical dysplasia among southwestern Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women. JAMA, 271(15), 1181-118. PMID: 8151876.
Apple RA, Becker TM, Wheeler CM, Erlich HA. (1995). Comparison of human leukocyte antigen DR-DQ disease associations found with cervical dysplasia and invasive cervical carcinoma. J Natl Cancer Inst, 87(6), 427-436. PMID: 7861462.
Xi LF, Kiviat NB, Hildesheim A, Galloway DA, Wheeler CM, Ho J, Koutsky LA. (2006). Human papillomavirus type 16 and 18 variants: race-related distribution and persistence. J Natl Cancer Inst, 98(15), 1045-52. PMID: 16882941.

In collaboration with Hans Ulrich Benard, my group was one of the leaders contributing to identifying the global spectrum and molecular genetic phylogeny of human papillomaviruses infecting the human lower genital tract, efforts that were critical to HPV diagnostic test development and these data established a basis for HPV carcinogenicity. Preceding L1-based HPV vaccines, my group working with John Schiller and Doug Lowy’s group contributed to determining that the central immune response to HPV in women was directed against the conformational epitopes of L1 presented as viral-like particles. My laboratory was also among the first to perform detailed characterization of cellular & humoral HPV vaccine responses.
Kirnbauer R, Hubbert NL, Wheeler CM, Becker TM, Lowy DR, Schiller JT. (1994). A virus-like particle enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay detects serum antibodies in a majority of women infected with human papillomavirus type 16. J Nat Cancer Inst, 86(7), 494-499. PMID: 8133532; PMCID: PMC3935441. Yamada T, Manos MM, Peto J, Greer CE, Muñoz N, Bosch FX, Wheeler CM. (1997). Human papillomavirus type 16 sequence variation in cervical cancers: a worldwide perspective. J Virol, 71(3), 2463- 2472. PMID: 9032384; PMCID: PMC191357.
Emeny RT, Wheeler CM, Jansen KU, Hunt WC, Fu TM, Smith JF, MacMullen S, Esser MT, Paliard X. (2002). Priming of human papillomavirus type 11-specific humoral and cellular immune responses in college-aged women with a virus-like particle vaccine. J Virol, 76(15), 7832-7842. PMID: 12097595; PMCID: PMC136358.