Each year, OCRA honors individuals doing important and notable work in the ovarian cancer field with a research prize to help propel their future discoveries. Individuals are selected by members of OCRA’s Scientific Advisory Committee.
The Liz Tilberis Research Prize is awarded to an individual who has used prior OCRA funding to impact the field of ovarian cancer research, by obtaining independent extramural funding and making important contributions to the literature.
Dr. Sarah Adams was awarded OCRA’s Liz Tilberis Award in 2011 with a subsequent renewal in 2015, and credits the grant with helping to launch a research career that over the past decade has made remarkable progress for patients with ovarian cancer.
Since receiving her early career grant, Dr. Adams has become a leader in translational science (which takes the findings of basic science research and “translates” them into practical medical advances that help people), bringing clinical investigators and scientific researchers together to accelerate the development of new therapies that can improve outcomes for patients.
Dr. Adams initial project, Development of Combination Therapy with PARP-inhibitors and Immunomodulation for BRCA-1 Epithelial Ovarian Cancer, explored a combination of PARP-inhibitor and immunotherapy to target CTLA-4 antibodies in patients with a BRCA mutation. Shortly after receiving the award, she was invited to join the faculty at University of New Mexico Comprehensive Cancer Center, where she now leads an independent research lab focused on ovarian tumor immunology, while simultaneously maintaining an active clinical practice caring for women with gynecologic malignancies.
As her work has helped translate research findings into clinical testing, Dr. Adams is carving out a path for others to do the same, by launching a new Translational Science Initiative, as well as a seed grant program to support interdisciplinary collaborations.
The Rosalind Franklin Excellence in Ovarian Cancer Research Prize is named for molecular biologist Dr. Rosalind Elsie Franklin, whose promising career was cut short in 1958 when she died of ovarian cancer at age 37, and honors an individual who continues her legacy of excellence.
Dr. Ie-Ming Shih is a recipient of OCRA’s 2017 Collaborative Research Development Grant, and a member of OCRA’s Scientific Advisory Committee, whose work continues to contribute significantly to our understanding of ovarian cancers.
As director of the TeLinde inter-departmental gynecologic disease research program, and co-director of the Women’s Malignancy Program at Johns Hopkins Cancer Center, Dr. Shih’s research focuses on exploring molecular landscapes and pathogensis of ovarian cancers, most notably their precursor lesions.
Dr. Shih’s contributions to the field are numerous and well-cited: one of his most significant achievements has been his proposal of a dualistic model for classifying ovarian cancer types into Type 1 and Type 2, highlighting the distinct pathways and origins that lead to development of different types of ovarian cancer, and providing the conceptual framework for investigators studying the complex group of diseases all classified as ovarian cancer cancer.
Dr. Shih’s groundbreaking collaborative studies have also helped shift the paradigm to recognize that high-grade serous ovarian cancer often originates in the fallopian tube rather than ovaries, leading to important changes in clinical practice. Additionally, his research team discovered and continues to investigate ARID1A mutations in clear cell carcinoma, a highly-aggressive type of ovarian cancer, and is recognized for their leadership in the study of ovarian serous borderline tumor and low-grade serous carcinoma. Dr. Shih’s team’s substantial efforts in translating basic research findings to clinically useful knowledge has been fundamental to development of new therapeutic inventions.