Instructor, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Approximately 70% of patients diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer present with stage III or IV disease in which tumor has disseminated beyond the ovaries and pelvic organs to the peritoneum and mesothelial lining of abdominal organs. Despite current surgical and medical therapies, 80% of patients will develop recurrent disease and only 30% of patients survive 5 years after diagnosis. These findings score the need for improved therapy in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer metastasis differs from other solid tumors in that detachment of ovarian cancer cells leads to cell attachment, growth, and invasion (see Figure below). Ovarian cancer cells will metastasize to certain tissues that are lined by mesothelium. Our lab is interested in understanding how ovarian cancer cells attach, invade, and metastasize. To address this, we use patient-derived cells to create a tumor microenvironment to simulate this process. Previous work has identified AXL as a gene responsible for invasion and metastasis in ovarian cancer. We are currently identifying genes involved in attachment through a functional screen that will lead us to further characterization of cancer progression.