Professor Jo Parish BSc, PhD

Professor Jo Parish

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Professor of Tumour Virology
Deputy Director of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences

Contact details

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Jo Parish was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship in 2007 and was appointed Senior Lecturer in Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences at the University of Birmingham in 2012.

The main focus of Jo’s research is the study of novel virus-host interactions that are important for viral pathogenesis and persistence. Jo has a longstanding interest in the molecular biology of human papillomavirus (HPV) life cycle and uses state-of-the art model systems and technologies to study HPV replication, persistence and transcriptional control.  


  • PhD in Biochemistry, University of Bristol, 2002
  • BSc in Biochemistry, University of Bristol, 1998


Professor Jo Parish completed her PhD at the University of Bristol in 2002, during which she elucidated the mechanism of the induction of apoptosis by the HPV E2 protein under the supervision of Dr Kevin Gaston. Following her PhD studies, she moved to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, USA to work with Professor Elliot Androphy.

During this time, Jo continued her study of the papillomavirus E2 protein and discovered several novel virus-host interactions including an interaction with the cellular DNA helicase ChlR1. Her work elegantly demonstrated that ChlR1 is required for the maintenance and persistence of papillomavirus by tethering viral genomes to cellular chromatin during mitosis and was published in Molecular Cell.

In 2007, Jo was awarded a highly competitive Royal Society University Research Fellowship and returned to the UK to establish her independent research group at the University of St Andrews. Jo was recruited to the University of Birmingham, UK in 2012 and is Group Leader of the HPV Persistence Group and promoted to Professor of Tumour Virology in 2021. Jo is a passionate mentor of early career researchers and through her role as Chair Elect of the Microbiology Society Virus Division continues to promote virology on a national and international stage. Professor Parish’s research is currently focused on the molecular biology of transcriptional control and persistence of HPV, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and other small DNA viruses. Her recent research has identified an essential role for the host transcription factors CTCF and YY1 in the control of differentiation-dependent virus gene expression and her research has unravelling the mechanism of HPV transcription control through epigenetic regulation. She continues to address long-standing questions about HPV gene expression control and replication using novel and state-of-the-art technologies.


  • Lecturer and Tutor for BMedSci (Clinical Sciences): Infection and Immunity, Viruses Threats and Defences, and Cancer Pathogenesis and Treatment
  • MBChB Tutor: ‘Cancer: Causes to Cures’
  • MBChB Personal Academic Tutor

Postgraduate supervision

Professor Jo Parish has supervised more than 20 postgraduate students in areas of virology and cancer biology. Many of these students now hold posts at prestigious national and international research institutes.

Jo is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Regulation of HPV gene expression control
  • Regulation of HPV replication and persistence
  • Regulation of HBV gene expression control

If you are interested in studying any of these subject areas please contact Jo directly, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email


Research Theme

Professor Parish’s research programme aims to understand the mechanistic underpinnings of virus gene expression control, replication and persistence using physiological models of human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections.

Current projects:

Virus-host interactions important for the control of HPV gene expression and HPV-induced carcinogenesis

Using primary keratinocyte-based models of HPV infections, we are characterizing novel host factors that are important for virus oncogene expression and differentiation-dependent regulation of HPV gene expression. Our collaborative work with Dr Sally Roberts has highlighted an important interaction between HPV and the host cell transcriptional regulator CTCF in the control of virus oncogene expression and we are currently analysing this interplay in HPV-induced disease progression. Work is supported by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

Viral manipulation of host cell gene expression

Using state-of-the-art technologies such as RNA-Seq, ChIP-Seq and FAIRE-Seq we are discovering how HPV manipulates transcriptional control of host cell genes to support virus life cycle. These studies are increasing our understanding of how HPV infection contributes to cancer development and will inform the design of novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. Work is supported by Cancer Research UK and the Medical Research Council.

Virus-host interactions important for the control of HBV gene expression

We are studying host cell-mediated regulation of HBV gene expression using physiologically-relevant models of HBV infection and state-of-the-art technologies. Work is supported by the Medical Research Council.

Member of the Birmingham Centre for Genome Biology   

Member of the Cancer Research UK Birmingham Centre  

Other activities

  • Associate Editor, Royal Society Open Science (2021-present)
  • Editor of Journal of General Virology (2018-present)
  • Editorial Board Member of Viruses (2014-present)
  • Chair Elect of Microbiology Society Virus Division (2019-present)
  • Elected member of the Microbiology Society Virus Division Committee (2015-2018)
  • Lecturer in Medical Science, University of St Andrews (2007-2012)
  • Member of the American Society for Microbiology
  • Member of the British Society for Cell Biology
  • Member of the Biochemical Society 
  • Member of the Heinrich-Pette Institute for Medical Virology, Hamburg Scientific Advisory Board

Public Engagement

Jo has been a STEM ambassador since 2011 and frequently participates in public engagement activities including Café Scientifique presentations, participation in the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, Schools visits/workshops/careers fairs and Judge of the National Science Competition at The Big Bang.

In 2016, Jo presented her research area at the University of Birmingham Life Sciences in Six event.


Recent publications


Califano, J, Yousef, A, Mostafa, H, Valsamakis, A, Zhang, X, Batis, N, Varghese, C, Parish, J, Forman, M, Jarrett, J, Messer, K & Mehanna, H 2023, 'Lead Time to Recurrence After Posttreatment Plasma and Saliva HPV DNA Testing in Patients With Low-Risk HPV Oropharynx Cancer', JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, vol. 149, no. 9, pp. 812-819.

Magon, KL & Parish, JL 2021, 'From infection to cancer: how DNA tumour viruses alter host cell central carbon and lipid metabolism', Open Biology, vol. 11, no. 3, 210004.

Gleneadie, HJ, Baker, AH, Batis, N, Bryant, J, Jiang, Y, Clokie, SJH, Mehanna, H, Garcia, P, Gendoo, DMA, Roberts, S, Burley, M, Molinolo, AA, Gutkind, JS, Scheven, BA, Cooper, PR, Parish, JL, Khanim, FL & Wiench, M 2021, 'The anti-tumour activity of DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine is enhanced by the common analgesic paracetamol through induction of oxidative stress', Cancer Letters, vol. 501, pp. 172-186.

Ferguson, J, Leon, KC, Pentland, I, Stockton, J, Günther, T, Grundhoff, A, Beggs, A, Roberts, S, Noyvert, B & Parish, JL 2021, 'The chromatin insulator CTCF regulates HPV18 transcript splicing and differentiation-dependent late gene expression', PLoS Pathogens, vol. 17, no. 11, e1010032.

Kong, A, Good, JS, Kirkham, A, Savage, J, Mant, R, Llewellyn, L, Parish, J, Spruce, R, Forster, M, Schipani, S, Harrington, K, Sacco, JJ, Murray, P, Middleton, G, Yap, C & Mehanna, H 2020, 'Phase I trial of WEE1 inhibition with chemotherapy and radiotherapy as adjuvant treatment, and a window of opportunity trial with cisplatin in patients with head and neck cancer: the WISTERIA trial protocol', BMJ open, vol. 10, no. 3, e033009.

D'Arienzo, V, Ferguson, J, Giraud, G, Chapus, F, Harris, J, Wing, P, Claydon, A, Begum, S, Zhuang, X, Balfe, P, Testoni, B, McKeating, JA & Parish, J 2020, 'The CCCTC-binding factor CTCF represses hepatitis B virus Enhancer I and regulates viral transcription', Cellular Microbiology, vol. 2020, e13274.

van Schie, J, Faramarz, A, Balk, J, Stewart, G, Cantelli, E, Oostra, A, Rooimans, M, Parish, J, de Almeida Esteves, C, Dumic, K, Barisic, I, Diderich, K, van Slegtenhorst, M, Mahtab, M, Pisani, F, te Riele, H, Ameziane, N, Wolthuis, R & de Lange, J 2020, 'Warsaw Breakage Syndrome associated DDX11 helicase resolves G-quadruplex structures to support sister chromatid cohesion', Nature Communications, vol. 11, no. 1, 4287.

Wing, P, Davenne, T, Wettengel, J, Lai, AG, Zhuang, X, Chakraborty, A, d'Arienzo, V, Kramer, C, Ko, C, Harris, J, Schreiner, S, Higgs, M, Roessler, S, Parish, J, Protzer, U, Balfe, P, Rehwinkel, J & McKeating, JA 2019, 'A dual role for SAMHD1 in regulating HBV cccDNA and RT-dependent particle genesis', Life Science Alliance, vol. 2, no. 2.

Roberts, S, Evans, D, Mehanna, H & Parish, J 2019, 'Modelling human papillomavirus biology in oropharyngeal keratinocytes', Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences, vol. 374, no. 1773, 20180289.

Roberts, S & Parish, J 2019, 'Modelling virus infections of the skin in 3D', Microbiology Today, vol. 46, no. 2, pp. 66-69.


Dobrica, MO, Varghese, CS, Harris, JM, Ferguson, J, Magri, A, Arnold, R, Várnai, C, Parish, JL & McKeating, JA 2023 'CTCF regulates hepatitis B virus cccDNA chromatin topology' bioRxiv.

Groves, IJ, Tang, G, Pentland, I, Parish, JL & Coleman, N 2021 'CTCF association with episomal HPV16 genomes regulates viral oncogene transcription and splicing' bioRxiv.

Ferguson, J, Leon, KC, Pentland, I, Stockton, J, Günther, T, Beggs, A, Roberts, S, Noyvert, B & Parish, JL 2021 'The chromatin insulator CTCF regulates HPV18 transcript splicing and differentiation-dependent late gene expression' bioRxiv.

Review article

Varghese, CS, Parish, JL & Ferguson, J 2022, 'Lying low-chromatin insulation in persistent DNA virus infection', Current Opinion in Virology, vol. 55, 101257.

Burley, M, Roberts, S & Parish, JL 2020, 'Epigenetic regulation of human papillomavirus transcription in the productive virus life cycle', Seminars in immunopathology, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 159-171.

View all publications in research portal