The Gynecology Research Laboratory is a disease-focused laboratory investigating the genomic basis of ovarian and uterine cancers for the purpose of improving prevention and control of these diseases. We are particularly interested in advancing opportunities for individualized therapy for women with gynecologic malignancies through integrated and functional genomic approaches. Our goal is to create new knowledge that will translate into clinical utility to improve the standard of care for ovarian and endometrial carcinoma. We have long studied the translational and biologic aspects of BRCA dysfunction as related to risk of disease and homologous recombination deficiency. We use an extensive biospecimen resource housed in the laboratory to study human tumors and validate discoveries with additional in vitro experimentation.
A major area of research focus is understanding the origins of ovarian cancer. For many years it was assumed that ovarian cancer developed from the surface epithelium of the ovary. More recently, convincing evidence now suggests that a majority of high-grade serous ovarian cancer develops in the distal fallopian tube. This new knowledge creates many unique opportunities for screening and prevention that we are investigating in the laboratory.
A second area of research focus involves understanding the molecular mechanisms of response and resistance to standard and targeted therapy for ovarian and endometrial cancers. We first develop clinically useful assays for correlative science on clinical trials. We then interrogate human tissue specimens from patients treated as part of institutional and cooperative group studies to identify therapeutically relevant biomarkers. Our specific studies concentrate on the homologous recombination pathway as it relates to BRCA dysfunction and PARP inhibition in ovarian cancer, and the PI3K/AKT as it relates to targeted therapeutics in endometrial cancer.
Finally, we are involved in many collaborative research projects throughout the United States, including The Cancer Genome Atlas, for which we are leading the ovarian and endometrial projects, Stand Up To Cancer, and the Clinical Proteomic Tumor Analysis Consortium. We use discoveries from these collaborative projects to generate hypotheses to test in the laboratory in order to advance our understanding of the genomic basis of disease and to translate the findings into clinical benefit.