Melissa Thompson, PhD
University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
The Role of the Tumor Microenvironment in Ovarian Cancer Progression
Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynecological cancer, accounting for 15,520 deaths annually. Preliminary studies by Dr. Thompson indicate that the tumor microenvironment enables and promotes tumor progression and chemoresistance, possibly through the expression of SFRP2. With this study, Dr. Thompson will demonstrate the specific mechanisms by which the microenvironment promotes ovarian cancer development and progression, specifically overexpression of SFRP2 using gene expression methods, purified protein, and primary cells in conventional 2D and newly developed 3D models. Furthermore, she will characterize the molecular mechanisms that allow for cancer progression, leading to increased understanding of ovarian cancer and possibly better diagnostic and/or treatment methods.
Melissa Thrall, MD
University of Washington
A population based evaluation of the use and outcomes of neoadjuvant chemotherapy
The current standard of care for the treatment of advanced stage ovarian cancer involves surgery with a maximal effort to remove all visible tumor followed by the administration of platinum based chemotherapy. However not all women with advanced ovarian cancer are treated according to clinical guidelines, and delay in surgery for the administration of chemotherapy may result in worse outcomes. Dr. Thrall's study aims to evaluate factors associated with this variation in care and how this impacts the outcomes of women with advanced ovarian cancer in a large population based sample of patient treated in the last 10 years.
Ramandeep Rattan, PhD
TCEAL7, a novel regulator of NFkB-IL-6/STAT3 pathway in ovarian cancer
The causes of ovarian cancer are not well understood because of the complexity and the lack of understanding of the various genetic alterations in the development of ovarian cancer and its progression to chemoresistant disease. Dr. Rattan's study is poised to be the very first report of a novel tumor suppressor gene TCEAL7, with the ability to transform nonmalignant ovarian surface epithelial cells to a malignant state by modulating the signaling of oncogenic transcription factors like NFκB and STAT3. Dr. Rattan's goal is to provide valuable information towards identification of a novel gene and signaling pathways that lead to the development of ovarian cancer, which can be further exploited in developing new detection methods and designing therapeutic management for ovarian cancer. Most importantly, the resources generated from this study will be available to other investigators interested in advancing the understanding of ovarian cancer pathology in the hope that these advances will soon benefit ovarian cancer patients.
Masafumi Toyoshima, MD, PhD
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Identification of Targeted Therapies for MYC-Amplified Ovarian Cancer By Functional Genomics
The main goal of Dr. Toyoshima's research is to investigate whether MYC synthetic lethal genes can be therapeutic targets for ovarian cancer in women whose MYC gene is amplified. Using a siRNA screening strategy this study will look to uncover genes that are essential for the survival of ovarian cancers with alteration of c-MYC expression. Specifically, Dr. Toyoshima will use siRNA and lentiviral vectors expressing short hairpin (sh)RNAs for stable knockdown of a selected group of MYC-synthetic lethal genes, and utilize available small molecule compounds to inhibit the function of these genes. These genes could represent great drug targets for ovarian cancer treatment.