Bill Sugden

Contact Information
608-262-1116 (office); 608-262-6697 (lab)
6555 WIMR II


AB, 1967, Organic Chemistry, Harvard University
MS, 1968, Physical Chemistry, Columbia University
PhD, 1973, Molecular Biology, Columbia University
Postdoctoral Research, Karolinska Institute, Department of Tumor Biology, Stockholm, Sweden


James A. Miller Professor of Oncology American Cancer Society Research Professor

Research Description

We work with Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and Kaposi’s Sarcoma Herpesvirus (KSHV) because they cause multiple, different cancers in people. These cancers include Burkitt’s Lymphoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and Kaposi’s Sarcoma. We study these Herpesviruses to understand their contributions to these cancers molecularly and to develop rational means to treat them.

EBV transforms human B-lymphocytes by inducing and maintaining their proliferation. We began to analyze EBV genetically by complementing transformation-defective variants and identified one viral gene, EBNA2, as necessary for transformation. We found that another viral gene, EBNA1, is essential for maintaining EBV DNA as a plasmid in transformed cells. EBV-associated tumors are surprising because they often fail to express some of the viral genes known to be essential for transformation. We therefore developed a genetic approach to study viral genes that drive EBV-positive lymphomas and found that the EBV miRNAs both block apoptosis and enhance proliferation in different forms of these tumors. These genetic studies have underscored the pivotal roles viral miRNAs and EBNA1 have in maintaining EBV-positive cancers. We have extended this approach to study KSHV-induced tumors and have developed transformation assays for primary B-cells using KSHV and EBV. This dual transformation provides a tractable model for dissecting viral contributions to a unique human tumor, Primary Effusion Lymphoma, caused by infection with both viruses. We also have developed and used live-cell imaging techniques to visualize EBV and KSHV genomes and elucidate their synthesis and partitioning. Beginning on May 1, 2020, we have worked concertedly to develop derivatives of SARS-CoV-2 safe to work with in BSL2 labs.

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Sugden Laboratory

Making the Virus Causing COVID-19 Safe for Research (video)

Rebecca Hutcheson, Graduate Research Assistant in the McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research at UW-Madison, discusses researchers’ work to engineer safer versions of the virus that causes COVID-19. The less dangerous virus can be studied in labs with