Joel M. Palefsky, MD

Joel M. Palefsky, MD

Professor of Medicine, Department of Infectious Diseases, UCSF

Phone: (415) 353-7100 (appts)
(415) 476-1574 (office)
Box 0654, UCSF
San Francisco, CA 94143-0654

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Cancer Center Membership

Program Member » Cancer, Immunity, and Microenvironment» Cancer Control

Research Summary

I am the founder and chair of the HPV Working Group of the NCI AIDS Malignancy Consortium and the head of the AMC HPV Virology Core Lab. I have extensive experience in studying the molecular biology of HPV infection in HIV-positive men and women and in the design and implementation of clinical research trials of HPV-related disease in this population. I am the protocol chair of the ANCHOR study, an eight-year, 15-site NCI/NIH-funded randomized controlled trial designed to determine whether treatment of anal high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions prevents anal cancer in HIV-infected men and women.
As the founder and director of the Anal Neoplasia Clinic, Research and Education Center at UCSF, I oversee training of clinicians from around the world in high-resolution anoscopy, anal biopsy, and office-based treatment. I have an active international research program, including currently active studies in India, Costa Rica and Thailand. I have published over 275 papers and am the PI on several laboratory-based and clinical research studies of HPV-associated neoplasia, particularly in the setting of HIV infection.
I am currently the president of the International Papillomavirus Society and the founder and immediate past president of the International Anal Neoplasia Society. I have been the leader of the UCSF Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Clinical Research Fellowship Program for medical students since 2001; since 2006, I have led a T32 program devoted to training pre-doctoral students in clinical and translational research. These year-out programs provide support for an intensive year of coursework and project-oriented research with the goal of stimulating pre-doctoral students to pursue further training and careers in clinical and translational research.


McGill University, Montreal, Canada, M.D.,C.M., 1980, Medicine
Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Canada, F.R.C.P(C), 1984, Internal Medicine
Stanford University, Stanford, CA, D.A.B.I.M. (Infec Dis), 1989, Medical Microbiology/Infectious Disease

Professional Experience

  • 1980 – 1983
    Residency in Internal Medicine, Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Canada
  • 1983 – 1984
    Post-doctoral Fellow, Dept of Microbiology & Immunology, McGill Univ., Montreal, Canada
  • 1984 – 1984
    Chief Medical Resident, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • 1985 – 1989
    Post-doctoral Fellow, Division of Infectious Diseases, Stanford University
  • 1989 – 1995
    Assistant Professor, Departments of Laboratory Medicine and Stomatology
  • 1990 – Present
    Director, UCSF Anal Neoplasia Clinic
  • 1995 – 1999
    Associate Professor, Departments of Laboratory Medicine and Stomatology
  • 1999 – Present
    Professor, Departments of Medicine, Laboratory Medicine and Stomatology
  • 1998 – 2006
    Program Director, UCSF General Clinical Research Center
  • 2006 – 2009
    Associate Dean for Clinical and Translational Research

Honors & Awards

  • 1976
    University Scholarship McGill University
  • 1985
    Medical Research Council of Canada Fellowship Medical Research Council of Canada
  • 1988
    American Social Health Association Fellowship American Social Health Association
  • 2003
    Elected to American Society for Clinical Investigation
  • 2005
    Award for excellence in small group instruction, UCSF
  • 2006, 2012
    Award of Merit American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology
  • 2008
    Award for excellence in small group instruction, UCSF
  • 2011
    Fieldhouse-Myers Oration Christian Medical College, Vellore, India
  • 2012
    Top Doctor (US News and World Report) (Infectious Diseases)
  • 2013
    America's Top Doctor, Castle and Connelly
  • 2013
    Super Doctor, San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Magazine
  • 2014
    Elected Member American Association of Physicians

Selected Publications

  1. Lahiri CD, Dugan KB, Xie X, Reimers L, Burk RD, Anastos K, Massad LS, Eltoum IE, Xue X, D'Souza G, Flowers L, Palefsky JM, Rahangdale L, Strickler HD, Ofotokun I. Oral Lopinavir Use and Human Papillomavirus Infection in HIV-Positive Women. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Oct 1; 70(2):e63-6.
    View on PubMed
  2. Bennetts LE, Wagner M, Giuliano AR, Palefsky JM, Steben M, Weiss TW. Associations of Anogenital Low-Risk Human Papillomavirus Infection With Cancer and Acquisition of HIV. Sex Transm Dis. 2015 Oct; 42(10):541-4.
    View on PubMed
  3. Ortiz AP, Marrero E, Muñoz C, Pérez CM, Tortolero-Luna G, Romaguera J, Rodríguez N, González-Falero A, Palefsky J, Suárez E. Methods in HPV Surveillance: Experiences from a Population-Based Study of HPV Infection among Women in the San Juan Metropolitan Area of Puerto Rico. P R Health Sci J. 2015 Sep; 34(3):117-27.
    View on PubMed
  4. Colón-López V, Ortiz AP, Del Toro-Mejías L, Clatts M, Durán-Guzmán G, Pérez N, DaCosta M, Palefsky J. Prevalence and Correlates of Penile HPV Infection in a Clinic-Based Sample of Hispanic Males. P R Health Sci J. 2015 Sep; 34(3):128-34.
    View on PubMed
  5. Palefsky JM. Screening to prevent anal cancer: Current thinking and future directions. Cancer Cytopathol. 2015 Sep; 123(9):509-10.
    View on PubMed
  6. Keller MJ, Burk RD, Massad LS, Eltoum IE, Hessol NA, Castle PE, Anastos K, Xie X, Minkoff H, Xue X, D'Souza G, Flowers L, Levine AM, Colie C, Rahangdale L, Fischl MA, Palefsky JM, Strickler HD. Cervical Precancer Risk in HIV-Infected Women Who Test Positive for Oncogenic Human Papillomavirus Despite a Normal Pap Test. Clin Infect Dis. 2015 Nov 15; 61(10):1573-81.
    View on PubMed
  7. Moscicki AB, Darragh TM, Berry-Lawhorn JM, Roberts JM, Khan MJ, Boardman LA, Chiao E, Einstein MH, Goldstone SE, Jay N, Likes WM, Stier EA, Welton ML, Wiley DJ, Palefsky JM. Screening for Anal Cancer in Women. J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2015 Jul; 19(3 Suppl 1):S26-41.
    View on PubMed
  8. Palefsky J, Berry M. Prevention of anal cancer - can we do better? Dis Colon Rectum. 2015 May; 58(5):e76.
    View on PubMed
  9. Gonzalez P, Hildesheim A, Herrero R, Katki H, Wacholder S, Porras C, Safaeian M, Jimenez S, Darragh TM, Cortes B, Befano B, Schiffman M, Carvajal L, Palefsky J, Schiller J, Ocampo R, Schussler J, Lowy D, Guillen D, Stoler MH, Quint W, Morales J, Avila C, Rodriguez AC, Kreimer AR. Rationale and design of a long term follow-up study of women who did and did not receive HPV 16/18 vaccination in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Vaccine. 2015 Apr 27; 33(18):2141-51.
    View on PubMed
  10. Brickman C, Palefsky JM. Human Papillomavirus in the HIV-Infected Host: Epidemiology and Pathogenesis in the Antiretroviral Era. Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2015 Mar; 12(1):6-15.
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  11. Wadhera P, Evans JL, Stein E, Gandhi M, Couture MC, Sansothy N, Sichan K, Maher L, Kaldor J, Page K. Human papillomavirus knowledge, vaccine acceptance, and vaccine series completion among female entertainment and sex workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia: the Young Women's Health Study. Int J STD AIDS. 2015 Oct; 26(12):893-902.
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  12. Ortiz AP, Reyes JC, Palefsky J, Negrón J, Da Costa M, Vázquez M, Rivera AI, Matos TD, Rios-Olivares E, Tortolero G. Oral human papillomavirus infection among drug users in Puerto Rico. P R Health Sci J. 2014 Dec; 33(4):190-6.
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  13. Massad LS, Xie X, Burk R, Keller MJ, Minkoff H, D'Souza G, Watts DH, Palefsky J, Young M, Levine AM, Cohen M, Strickler HD. Long-term cumulative detection of human papillomavirus among HIV seropositive women. AIDS. 2014 Nov 13; 28(17):2601-8.
    View on PubMed
  14. Torres-Ibarra L, Conde-Glez CJ, Salmerón J, Palefsky J, Hernández-Nevares P, Sánchez-Alemán MA, Magis-Rodríguez C, Lazcano-Ponce E. Risk factors for anal HPV-16/18 infection in Mexican HIV-infected men who have sex with men. Prev Med. 2014 Dec; 69:157-64.
    View on PubMed
  15. D'Souza G, Burk RD, Palefsky JM, Massad LS, Strickler HD. Cervical human papillomavirus testing to triage borderline abnormal pap tests in HIV-coinfected women. AIDS. 2014 Jul 17; 28(11):1696-8.
    View on PubMed
  16. Ghartey J, Kovacs A, Burk RD, Stewart Massad L, Minkoff H, Xie X, D'souza G, Xue X, Heather Watts D, Levine AM, Einstein MH, Colie C, Anastos K, Eltoum IE, Herold BC, Palefsky JM, Strickler HD. Genital tract HIV RNA levels and their associations with human papillomavirus infection and risk of cervical precancer. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2014 Jul 1; 66(3):316-23.
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  17. Hernandez AL, Efird JT, Holly EA, Berry JM, Jay N, Palefsky JM. Incidence of and risk factors for type-specific anal human papillomavirus infection among HIV-positive MSM. AIDS. 2014 Jun 1; 28(9):1341-9.
    View on PubMed
  18. Zhang C, Park JS, Grce M, Hibbitts S, Palefsky JM, Konno R, Smith-McCune KK, Giovannelli L, Chu TY, Picconi MA, Piña-Sánchez P, Settheetham-Ishida W, Coutlée F, De Marco F, Woo YL, Ho WC, Wong MC, Chirenje MZ, Magure T, Moscicki AB, Sabol I, Fiander AN, Chen Z, Chan MC, Cheung TH, Burk RD, Chan PK. Geographical distribution and risk association of human papillomavirus genotype 52-variant lineages. J Infect Dis. 2014 Nov 15; 210(10):1600-4.
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  19. Ortiz AP, Pérez-Irizarry J, Soto-Salgado M, Suárez E, Pérez N, Cruz M, Palefsky J, Tortolero-Luna G, Miranda S, Colón-López V. Human papillomavirus-related cancers among people living with AIDS in Puerto Rico. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014; 11:E80.
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  20. Patel J, Salit IE, Berry MJ, de Pokomandy A, Nathan M, Fishman F, Palefsky J, Tinmouth J. Environmental scan of anal cancer screening practices: worldwide survey results. Cancer Med. 2014 Aug; 3(4):1052-61.
    View on PubMed

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