Dr Jo Parish BSc, PhD

Dr Jo Parish

Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences
Reader in Viral Oncology
Deputy Director of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences

Contact details

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

Dr 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


Dr 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 promoter to Reader in 2019. 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. 

Dr 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

Dr 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 using the details above or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: dr@contacts.bham.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 414 5005


Research Theme

Dr 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

  • 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


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. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-033009

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, 4287. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18066-8

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. https://doi.org/10.26508/lsa.201900355

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. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2018.0289

Bryant, J, Batis, N, Franke, AC, Clancey, G, Hartley, M, Ryan, G, Brooks, J, Southam, AD, Barnes, N, Parish, J, Roberts, S, Khanim, F, Spruce, R & Mehanna, H 2019, 'Repurposed quinacrine synergizes with cisplatin, reducing the effective dose required for treatment of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma', OncoTarget, vol. 10, no. 50, pp. 5229-5244. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.27156

Anayannis, N, Schlecht, N, Ben-Dayan, M, Smith, R, Belbin, T, Ow, T, Blakaj, D, Burk, R, Leonard, S, Woodman, C, Parish, J & Prystowsky, M 2018, 'Association of an intact E2 gene with higher HPV viral load, higher viral oncogene expression, and improved clinical outcome in HPV16 positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma', PLoS ONE, vol. 13, no. 2, e0191581, pp. 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0191581

Llewellyn, M, Gordon, N, Abbotts, B, James, N, Zeegers, MP, Cheng, K, Macdonald, A, Roberts, S, Parish, J, Ward, D & Bryan, R 2018, 'Defining the frequency of human papillomavirus and polyomavirus infection in urothelial bladder tumours', Scientific Reports, vol. 8, 11290. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-29438-y

Pentland, I, Campos Leon, K, Cotic, M, Davies, K-J, Wood, CD, Groves, I, Burley, M, Coleman, N, Stockton, J, Noyvert, B, Beggs, A, West, M, Roberts, S & Parish, J 2018, 'Disruption of CTCF-YY1 dependent looping of the human papillomavirus genome activates differentiation-induced viral oncogene transcription', PLoS Biology, vol. 16, no. 10, e2005752. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.2005752

Morgan, E, Wasson, C, Hanson, L, Kealy, D, Pentland, I, McGuire, V, Scarpini, C, Coleman, N, Arthur, S, Parish, J, Roberts, S & Macdonald, A 2018, 'STAT3 activation by E6 is essential for the differentiation-dependent HPV18 life cycle', PLoS pathogens, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 1-33. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006975

Campos Leon, K, Wijendra, K, Siddiqa, A, Pentland, I, Feeney, K, Knapman, A, Davies, R, Androphy, E & Parish, J 2017, 'Association of human papillomavirus type 16 E2 with Rad50-interacting protein 1 enhances viral DNA replication', Journal of virology, vol. 91, no. 5, e02305-16. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02305-16

Marsh, E, Delury, C, Davies, N, Weston, C, Miah, MAL, Banks, L, Parish, J, Higgs, M & Roberts, S 2017, 'Mitotic control of human papillomavirus genome-containing cells is regulated by the function of the PDZ-binding motif of the E6 oncoprotein', OncoTarget, vol. 8, pp. 19491-19506. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.14469

Harris, L, McFarlane, L, Campos Leon, K, Roberts, S & Parish, J 2017, 'The cellular DNA helicase ChlR1 regulates chromatin and nuclear matrix attachment of the human papillomavirus type 16 E2 protein and high copy viral genome establishment: ChlR1 regulates the chromatin association of HPV16 E2', Journal of virology, vol. 91, no. 1, pp. e01853-16. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01853-16

Paris, C, Pentland, I, Groves, I, Roberts, D, Powis, SJ, Coleman, N, Roberts, S & Parish, J 2015, 'CCCTC-Binding Factor Recruitment to the Early Region of the Human Papillomavirus Type 18 Genome Regulates Viral Oncogene Expression: CTCF Controls HPV Early Gene Expression', Journal of virology, vol. 89, no. 9, pp. 4770-4785. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00097-15

Review article

Burley, M, Roberts, S & Parish, JL 2020, 'Epigenetic regulation of human papillomavirus transcription in the productive virus life cycle', Seminars in immunopathology. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00281-019-00773-0

Pentland, I & Parish, J 2015, 'Targeting CTCF to Control Virus Gene Expression: A Common Theme amongst Diverse DNA Viruses', Viruses, vol. 7, no. 7, pp. 3574-3585. https://doi.org/10.3390/v7072791

View all publications in research portal