Ovarian Cancer Research

research programs supported by ovations for the cure of ovarian cancer

Ovations for the Cure of Ovarian Cancer supports various research, awareness and patient programs each year. To date, we have directed over $1.4 million to ovarian cancer research initiatives and treatment programs. Here's where it has gone:

why your support translates into hope
—looking to the future

Ovations for the Cure of Ovarian Cancer has awarded grants to organizations such as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital. These talented investigators are working to develop tissue and serum biomarkers that will enable early detection, diagnosis and treatment. They are developing new, targeted therapies for the disease while trying to better understand why ovarian cancer cells are initially sensitive to Cisplatin. Also, investigators are focusing on quality of life research and studying how women make critical treatment decisions.

For more information on these research initiatives or to donate to a specific initiative, please contact us.

the future holds great promise through the work of the following scientist physicians:

Ursula Matulonis, MD at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Ursula A. Matulonis, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Medical Director, Gynecologic Oncology
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Matulonis is the Medical Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She is working to develop new therapeutic agents for the treatment of ovarian cancer, to decipher the differences between premenopausal and postmenopausal ovarian cancer and to better understand how patients with ovarian cancer make medical decisions. She is also working to improve the quality of life for ovarian cancer patients. Dr. Matulonis is pursuing efforts to determine a proteomic or protein profile of patients with newly diagnosed ovarian cancer in order to try to predict prognosis, to make rational decisions about adding other more "targeted" treatments to chemotherapy and to determine why ovarian cancer is very sensitive initially to the drug Cisplatin. Dr. Matulonis is currently collaborating in the testing of a new type of drug, PARP inhibitors, against recurrent ovarian cancer.

At Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Dr. Matulonis started the tissue and clinical information bank, runs the clinical trials program in gynecologic cancers and is the principal investigator of several clinical trials. She is also the Medical Director of the Database Mapping Research Project for the Madeline Franchi Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Mariana Castells, MD, PhD at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Mariana C. Castells, MD, PhD
Allergist-Immunologist, Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy
Head of the Desensitization Program, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Dr. Castells, an allergist-immunologist, founded the Adverse Drug Reaction and Desensitization Program in 1995, and has since trained allergy fellows, medical students and residents from the U.S. and abroad on high-risk desensitizations. She started chemotherapy desensitizations in 1997 and now has a desensitization unit at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where her team desensitizes 3 patients every day, providing first line therapy for primary and recurrent cancer patients as a standard of care.

Dr. Castells heads the Brigham and Women's Hospital Desensitization Program, funded through Ovations for the Cure of Ovarian Cancer. She performs evaluations of over 300 patients per year with complex drug reactions. In 2008, she published the largest series of desensitizations—with 413 cases—using a 12-step protocol, a process that has been adopted worldwide.

Through the Desensitization Program, Dr. Castells has developed a life-saving process to desensitize ovarian cancer patients who may become allergic to some of the chemotherapy drugs prescribed to them. Without the ability to take these drugs, many patients would not be able to seek any form of treatment. Dr. Castells' research and clinical trials allow many women to become triumphant in their fight to overcome ovarian cancer.

Marsha Moses, PhD at Children's Hospital Boston

Marsha A. Moses, PhD
Director, Vascular Biology Program
Department of Vascular Biology, Children's Hospital Boston

Dr. Moses is currently the Director of the Vascular Biology Program at Children's Hospital Boston. The Moses Lab has had a long-standing interest in identifying and characterizing the biochemical and molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of angiogenesis during tumor progression, from the angiogenic switch through metastasis. Dr. Moses and her group have discovered five different angiogenesis inhibitors, three of which are in clinical development for use against a variety of cancers.

Significant efforts are now underway in the lab to identify the genes and proteins that they encode, that are responsible for the ''angiogenic switch.'' This critical checkpoint, during which time a tiny benign, avascular tumor acquires the vascular phenotype, is a prerequisite for subsequent tumor growth and progression. The Moses Lab has recently identified and validated a number of genes which are differentially expressed during the angiogenic switch and is currently developing molecular and biochemical interventions to prevent the switch from occurring by targeting some of these genes.

To complement these studies, Dr. Moses has established a Proteomics Initiative in her lab, which has now led to the discovery of a panel of urinary cancer biomarkers that not only predict disease status and stage in cancer patients, but are also sensitive and specific markers of disease progression and therapeutic efficacy of cancer drugs. A number of these urine tests are currently in clinical testing as potential cancer diagnostics and prognostics.

Ronny Drapkin, MD, PhD at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital

Ronny I. Drapkin, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pathology, Harvard Medical School
Associate Pathologist, Pathology, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Principal Investigator, Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dr. Drapkin’s laboratory effort has focused on the biomarker HE4 (Human Epididymis protein 4). He has shown that this protein is both secreted by ovarian cancers and can be found in the blood of patients with ovarian cancer. Dr. Drapkin is addressing whether HE4 has other roles besides being a biomarker. There is preliminary data indicating that suppression of the HE4 protein in ovarian cancer cells (by a methodology called RNA interference) results in a decrease in the growth capacity of these tumor cells. These results suggest that HE4 may be playing an active role in ovarian cancer pathogenesis and/or progression and may be a novel therapeutic target.

Dr. Drapkin has shown that HE4 is expressed in the two major subtypes of ovarian cancer (serous and endometrioid carcinoma). Interestingly, HE4 is not expressed by other, more common, cancers such as breast, colon, thyroid, kidney and lung. Thus, it appears to be unique to ovarian cancer.