Scientific Advisory Committee

Members of our Scientific Advisory Committee are respected leaders in research and on treating patients with ovarian cancer.

Please note: All organizational affiliations and titles are listed for identification purposes only. All individuals serve in their personal capacity and not as a representative of their employer.

Ronald D. Alvarez, MD, MBA, Chair
Photo of Ronald D. Alvarez, MD, MBA

Professor and Chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Betty and Lonnie Burnett Endowed Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Ronald D. Alvarez, MD, MBA, is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and holds the Betty and Lonnie S. Burnett Endowed Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dr. Alvarez received his B.S. degree in 1979 from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and his M.D. in 1983 from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana. He completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1987 and his fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology in 1990, both at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in Birmingham, Alabama. He received his M.B.A. in 2013 from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama.

Dr. Alvarez was previously, Professor and Ellen Gregg Shook Culverhouse Chair in the UAB Division of Gynecologic Oncology, for which he served as Director from 2003-2014, and Vice-Chair of the UAB Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. His long-term research interests have included the development of novel therapeutics for ovarian cancer and new screening and prevention strategies for cervical cancer. He has been the recipient of several NCI and other industry funded grants in support of his research in gene therapeutics for ovarian cancer, including projects funded by the UAB Ovarian Cancer SPORE. He was a co-principal investigator in the cervical neoplasm vaccine projects included in the Johns Hopkins/UAB Cervical SPORE. He was principal investigator for the UAB NCTN LAPS. He is currently co-chair of the NRG Oncology Gynecologic Cancer Committee.

Dr. Alvarez has served on study sections for the NCI Clinical Oncology Section and the Department of Defense’s Ovarian Cancer Research Program. Dr. Alvarez has published over 250 articles in various peer-reviewed journals and has served on the editorial board of Gynecologic Oncology. In 2013, he served as President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and he currently serves as Director of Gynecologic Oncology Division for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Deborah K. Armstrong, MD
Photo of Deborah K. Armstrong, MD

Associate Professor, Oncology
Associate Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Dr. Armstrong is Associate Professor of Oncology and Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, as well as an active staff member in the hospital’s Oncology Department. She is currently on the editorial review board and peer review panels of publications such as Gynecologic Oncology and Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Armstrong also holds positions on committees with the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Gynecologic Oncology Group. Her research interests in ovarian cancer lie in the genetic aspects of the disease as well as interperitoneal (IP) therapy, biological therapy, and immunologic means of treatment.

Her contributions to the field of ovarian cancer include leading the IP therapy effort, developing new therapeutic cancer treatments, and directing a genetic counseling service at Johns Hopkins to identify and help at risk patients.

Robert C. Bast Jr., MD
Photo of Robert C. Bast Jr., MD

Vice President for Translational Research
MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Bast is Vice President for Translational Research at the UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. His office facilitates translation of new strategies, drugs and devices from laboratory to the clinic, as well as the movement of human material and data from the clinic to laboratory. Dr. Bast received his B.A. cum laude from Wesleyan University and his M.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Medical School. After completing a medical internship at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, he served as a research associate at the National Cancer Institute. Returning to Boston, Dr. Bast completed a medical residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital and a fellowship in Medical Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He joined the faculty at Harvard as an Assistant Professor and was subsequently appointed Associate Professor at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Bast was recruited to the Duke University Medical Center in 1984 as Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology to Co-Direct the Division of Hematology-Oncology and to serve as Clinical Director of the Cancer Center. In 1987, he became the Director of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center and in 1992 he was named Wellcome Clinical Professor of Medicine in Honor of R. Wayne Rundles. In July 1994, Dr. Bast was recruited to head the Division of Medicine at UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and to fill the Harry Carothers Wiess Chair for Cancer Research. In 2000, Dr. Bast was appointed Vice President for Translational Research. In 2004, he became the Harry Carothers Wiess Distinguished University Professor for Cancer Research.

Dr. Bast is best known for developing the OC125 monoclonal antibody that led to the production of the CA125 radioimmunoassay. Serum CA125 levels have provided the first generally useful marker for monitoring the course of patients with epithelial ovarian cancer. CA 125 is currently being evaluated as one component of a screening strategy for ovarian cancer. His early studies focused on the use of immunostimulants and monoclonal antibodies for cancer therapy. Over the last 15 years his group has pioneered in defining molecular alterations in ovarian and breast cancers that might serve as targets for therapy as well as diagnosis. His most recent studies have focused on the identification of ARHI, a novel ras-related imprinted tumor suppressor gene that induces autophagy and tumor dormancy. He has led the U.T. M.D. Anderson SPORE in Ovarian Cancer since 1999. Overall, Dr. Bast has published more than 500 articles and chapters, and has edited the textbook Cancer Medicine. He has been recognized by Institute for Scientific Informal as one of the most frequently cited scientists in his field. In 2006 he was recognized with the Smith-Klein Beacham Clinical Laboratories Award, the ISOBM-Abbott Award and an Award for Excellence in Gynecologic Oncology by the International Society of Gynecologic Oncology. He continues to care for patients with breast and ovarian cancer and has been listed in the Best Doctors of America and in America’s Top Physicians.

Andrew Berchuck, MD
Photo of Andrew Berchuck, MD

Co-Director, Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, Breast/Ovarian Cancer Program
Duke University

For the past 35 years Dr. Berchuck has been actively involved in caring for women with gynecologic cancers on a daily basis while also leading a nationally-recognized program in translational research program related to the molecular origins of ovarian cancer.  He has served in many roles related to ovarian cancer translational research including being a member of the TCGA ovarian and endometrial cancer working groups and chairing two study sections for the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program.  He also led the scientific advisory board of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund for 8 years. With his epidemiology colleague Joellen Schildkraut, Ph.D., he has been one of the leaders of the North Carolina Ovarian Cancer Study, which seeks to identify common genetic polymorphisms that affect ovarian cancer susceptibility.  In 2005 he was one of the founding members of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC), an international group of over 100 studies working together to validate the results of genetic association studies in ovarian cancer.  For 17 years he served as head of the OCAC steering committee during a time when OCAC identified 35 genome wide significant SNPs associated with ovarian cancer risk.  He has extensive experience in the field of hereditary cancer genetics and has been actively involved in managing patients with high penetrance mutations that predispose to ovarian and endometrial cancer.  In 2022 he was appointed as one of the medical directors of the Duke Clinical Cancer Genetics Program. Dr. Berchuck has been involved in national activities related to ovarian cancer, including serving as President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology in 2007.  He is also a member of the NCCN ovarian cancer guidelines committee.

Jonathan S. Berek, MD, MMS
Photo of Jonathan S. Berek, MD, MMS

Laurie Kraus Lacob Professor
Stanford University School of Medicine
Director, Stanford Women’s Cancer Center
Senior Advisor, Stanford Cancer Institute

Jonathan S. Berek MD, MMS is the Laurie Kraus Lacob Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine and a recent past Fellow in the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute. He helped establish and is the Director of the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center, which is one of the first programs in the nation to combine breast & gynecologic oncology with a women’s cancer translational research, genetics and supportive services programs. He serves as Senior Advisor, Stanford Cancer Institute, and served as Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 2005-2017.

A Stanford faculty member since 2005, he is renowned for his expertise in gynecologic oncology, surgical innovation and technique, and research in ovarian cancer, especially immunology and immunotherapy. His past laboratory research focused on fundamental mechanisms of cancer immunology, elucidating growth regulatory pathways for cytokines and their receptors. His current research focuses on clinical trials of novel therapies and immunotherapies for ovarian cancer and collaborations on new diagnostics, screening techniques, and genetics.

An author and editor, Dr. Berek has published more than 320 peer-reviewed manuscripts in the scientific literature, and an equal number of book chapters and monographs. His books, Berek & Hacker’s Gynecologic Oncology, now in it’s 6th edition, and Berek & Novak’s Gynecology, in it’s 16th edition, are leading texts in the field. He serves as Editor-in-Chief for Current Opinion in Obstetrics & Gynecology, and immediate past Editor-in-Chief of ASCO Connection.

Professor Berek has extensive involvement and many leadership roles in national and global cancer activities. He is the Past President of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society, and he is one of two representatives from the USA to the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FIGO) Gynecologic Oncology Committee, which is responsible for the staging of gynecologic cancers, and he is the Chair of the FIGO Subcommittee on Cervical Cancer. He serves as a Principal Investigator on the Gynecologic Cancer Intergroup (GCIG), the premiere international consortium of 32 cooperative clinical cancer trials groups. He is the Group Chair of the Cooperative Oncologic Gynecology Investigators (COGI), a member group of the GCIG. He is the Chair of the GCIG Education Committee, a member of the Steering Committee for the Cervical Cancer Research Network (CCRN), a group that develops programs for the treatment and clinical research on cervical cancer in limited resourced countries. On behalf of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), he is the senior author of the international resource-stratified guidelines for the management of cervical cancer, which provides direction for basic and limited levels of cancer care for women in developing countries.

Professor Berek received his undergraduate degree in English literature and theatre arts, and a Master of Medical Sciences degree in biomedical sciences from Brown University. After earning his Doctor of Medicine from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, he completed an internship and residency at the Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women’s Hospital. Before moving to Stanford, he was on the faculty at the UCLA School of Medicine for over two decades, where he served the Chair of the College of Applied Anatomy, Chief of Staff of the UCLA Medical Center, departmental Executive Vice Chair, and Director of Gynecologic Oncology.

In 2003, Dr. Berek received the highly prestigious Sherman Mellinkoff Award from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. In 2012, he was presented the John C. Fremont Pathfinder Award, given in recognition of significant contributions to society made by a native Nebraskan. Dr. Berek is the 2019 Honoree of the American Cancer Society for his many accomplishments in women’s cancer treatment and research.

Keeping Communication at the Heart of Gynecologic Oncology: Meet a Scientist

For someone who has spent four decades blazing trails in ovarian cancer research and women’s healthcare, it might seem odd that the one word to sum up Dr. Jonathan Berek’s wide range of experiences and contributions would be ‘communication.’ 

But the conveying of information in empathetic, successful, understandable and compelling ways has been at the heart of everything that Jonathan has done throughout his career.

Jonathan Berek, MD, MMS, in hospital hallway wearing lab coat

Jonathan is the Laurie Kraus Lacob Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He is currently Director of the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center, which he started when he moved to Stanford 15 years ago to Chair the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. For more than two decades, he served as UCLA faculty and as the Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology.  

At Stanford, he’s also a Senior Advisor at the Stanford Cancer Institute, and Executive Director of the Stanford Health Communication Initiative. Recently, he was selected as Fellow in the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute, where he was one of 25 colleagues from throughout the world chosen to collaborate on special impactful programs at Stanford University. And he is still a practicing gynecologic oncologist. 

“This year, I’m on a partial sabbatical,” said Jonathan, laughing. “But it hasn’t changed my work level!” What it has done is allow him to focus on all of the various creative activities and initiatives he’s involved in—research, administration, teaching, and educational programs.

A non-traditional path to medicine

Another thing Jonathan has turned his attention to is documentary filmmaking. This may seem like an outlier compared to his other areas of focus, but it’s actually connected to cancer research. And it dates back to his college days. 

Before enrolling in medical school at Johns Hopkins, Jonathan was an English and Theater major at Brown University. He did some professional acting, and his first job was directing at the college’s repertory company. His colleagues at Stanford were surprised to learn that he had a background in playwriting, directing, producing and acting. So decades later, when the Stanford Office of Medical Development decided to create a short documentary film to promote the research at the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center, Jonathan was asked to direct the film.  

Jonathan Berek on set

Now, he works closely with a film production company and they call him whenever they’re doing a film related to medicine, cancer, and other topics. He is currently directing, writing, and executive producing two full-length documentary films with his own production company, MedArts Films.

“It involves storytelling,” Jonathan said. “It involves the communication of science, because we have to explain to donors why their money is valuable.”

Communicating with patients

One of the reasons Jonathan was attracted to gynecologic oncology rather than general surgical or medical oncology was because this specialty combines all the aspects of what he believes it takes to be a good doctor.

“It’s one of the few subspecialties that starts with diagnosis and then you carry the patient all the way through,” he said.

He explained that the process requires someone to not only be a great surgeon—something he enjoyed because it posed a specific problem (a tumor), with a solution (you take it out)—but also requires being well-versed in connecting with patients and maintaining that bond throughout, supporting them emotionally through all the psychological, psychosocial and psychosexual issues that arise for them and their families.

“In order to be a great gynecologic oncologist,” Jonathan said, “you have to be good at communicating and you have to be very supportive of the patients. And that’s something that takes effort, practice and skills training.”

Teaching communication skills

It’s that skill, communicating with patients, that led Jonathan to help develop a program called ACES: Advancing Communication Excellence at Stanford. It was designed to improve the culture of how physicians and other healthcare providers at Stanford relate to their patients and patients’ families. These workshops (which used to be in person, but are now delivered virtually) teach basic communication skills. To date, over one thousand professionals have gone through this training.

Harkening back to his theater experience, Jonathan also developed a communication skills module called ‘medical improvisation,’ which helps healthcare professionals to be more spontaneous in their interactions with patients. 

And he’s developed another series that provides training in how to make scientific and medical presentations for physicians and scientists.

Dr. Jonathan Berek at work speaking with colleagues

25 years of ovarian cancer research

Jonathan’s career in medicine and research began while he was in medical school, working in a lab that was exploring immunology and immunobiology of ovarian cancer. He continued that research work when he was a resident physician at Harvard. For 25 years, his laboratory research as faculty at UCLA explored how our immune system responded to ovarian cancer tumors.

It should be no surprise that he describes that body of research as focusing on how “white cells and antibodies (parts of our immune system) talk to cancer cells.”

“That communication,” Jonathan explained, “affects how the cancer cell responds in the body, how it grows. And if you can understand that, you can sometimes modify or change the growth of the cancer cell.”

An early and lasting connection to OCRA

Jonathan is a founding member of OCRA’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), and has been serving for 24 years. 

“They invited me to participate in the first group of clinician-scientists who were involved in discovery and ovarian cancer,” said Jonathan, “to brainstorm how we could help move the cause, help to raise money, and develop the grants and awards program. I was involved in the very early phase. I just stayed because it’s a fantastic organization.”

A lifetime of commitment

Jonathan was recently honored by The American Cancer Society with a Lifetime Achievement Award—an award that is well deserved. He acknowledges that he’s in a great place in his career, where he can run clinical trials and mentor others in their research. 

As he discusses with his mentees their work, he bears in mind the wisdom of two of his own mentors and heroes—Phil Pizzo, the former dean of medicine at Stanford, and Sherman Mellinkoff, the former dean of medicine at UCLA. He describes them in turn as “very compassionate,” “incredibly brilliant,” “accessible” and “Solomonic in his understanding of human behavior.”

And for Jonathan himself? He has a rule he applies to new opportunities. “I’ll do it if I’m having fun, they want me to do it, and I can make a contribution!”

Jonathan, we are so incredibly grateful for all the contributions you have made to OCRA and to the field.

Jonathan Berek in group at event

Molly Brewer, DVM, MD, MS
Photo of Molly Brewer, DVM, MD, MS

Professor and Chair, Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of CT Health Center

Dr. Molly Brewer is Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of CT Health Center. She completed medical school at SUNY Syracuse after being in practice as a veterinarian for 8 years. She did her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland Oregon, a Galloway fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital and a Gynecologic Oncology fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. Following Dr. Brewer’s fellowship, she stayed on the faculty at MDACC for 4 years and completed an MS in the OJOC Program at the University Of Michigan School Of Public Health in Statistics and Clinical Research Design.

Dr. Brewer was a faculty member at the Arizona Cancer Center where she worked with optical scientists and biomedical engineers to develop optical technology to interrogate the ovary for early cancer. Her other research and clinical interests include prevention of ovarian/breast cancer and evaluation of women at risk for cancer.

Ronald Buckanovich, MD, PhD
Photo of Ronald Buckanovich, MD, PhD

Professor of Medicine
Director of the Ovarian Cancer Center of Excellence
Co-Director of the Womens Cancer Research Center
Magee-Womens Research Institute
UPMC Hillman Cancer Center
University of Pittsburgh

Ronald Buckanovich graduated from Cornell University in 1990 with a B.S. in Genetics and Biochemistry. He then completed the Medical Scientist Training Program and started his life-long study of ovarian cancer.  He received his Ph.D. in 1996 from the Rockefeller University and his M.D. in 1998 from Cornell University. Dr. Buckanovich then went on to complete an Internal Medicine residency and a Hematology-Oncology fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. During his fellowship he continued his research on ovarian cancer, identifying dozens of novel clinical targets and helped to develop a novel therapeutic to enhance tumor vaccine therapy. Dr. Buckanovich joined the University of Michigan as ascended to the ranks of Associate Professor.  There he also served an associate director for the Hematology Oncology Fellowship.  In 2017 Dr. Buckanovich was recruited to the Magee Women’s Research Institute and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center of the University of Pittsburgh as a Professor of Medicine and serves as the Director of Ovarian Cancer Center of Excellence and Co-Director of the Women’s Cancer Research Center.  His lab has identified a novel population of cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) which may be responsible for ovarian cancer metastasis, chemotherapy resistance and ultimately disease recurrence.  His laboratory also identified and characterized a novel population of cancer associated mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)—normal cells recruited by the cancer to help the cancer grow. His laboratory is now studying the factors which regulate CSCs and MSCs including regulators of asymmetric division and quiescence.  His laboratory work has resulted in the initiation of 4 translational clinical trials for the treatment of ovarian cancer.  In addition, his group has identified two novel compounds which are now being developed for first in human clinical trials; one which blocks the ability of cancer cells to metastasize, and a second which selectively kills the cancer stem-like cells to reverse chemotherapy resistance. Based on the knowledge he has gained studying the tumor microenvironment, his group is now also looking at ways to enhance anti-tumor immune therapy by targeting host cells in the tumor.

In addition to his laboratory studies, Dr. Buckanovich has a busy clinical practice, specializing in the treatment of ovarian and uterine cancers. He is currently the principal investigator of two clinical trials at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been an author or co-author of 70 original research articles.  In recognition of his work, Dr. Buckanovich received a Clinical Investigator Award from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the National Institutes of Health New Innovator – Directors Award, Society of Gynecologic Oncology Best Basic Science Award, and he has been elected to the American Society of Clinical Investigators.

Kathleen Cho, MD
Photo of Kathleen Cho, MD

Peter A. Ward Professor of Pathology and Vice-Chair for Academic Affairs, Department of Pathology, University of Michigan Medical School

Kathleen R. Cho, M.D., is the Peter A. Ward Professor of Pathology and Vice-Chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Cho is widely recognized as a leading authority in both the basic and clinical study of gynecologic malignancies. Her research focuses primarily on ovarian cancer. In early work, her group generated comprehensive molecular profiles of human ovarian carcinomas, demonstrating distinct molecular profiles in ovarian cancer subtypes. Dr. Cho and her co-workers subsequently used this information to engineer novel mouse models of ovarian endometrioid carcinoma, and more recently, her team has generated innovative mouse models of oviductal high-grade serous carcinoma, the most common and lethal type of “ovarian” cancer, that usually arises in the fallopian tube. These unique murine models are being used to study ovarian tumor biology and to explore novel approaches for prevention, early detection and treatment of high-grade serous carcinoma.

Dr. Cho’s research has been supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP) of the Department of Defense (DoD) and several private foundations. She has served on a number of NIH and DoD study sections, and on committees to assess the status of ovarian cancer research for the Institute of Medicine and the NCI/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). She is currently serving a second term on the Programmatic Panel for the DoD’s OCRP. Dr. Cho is an editorial board member of several journals, and recently completed a second term as Senior Editor at Cancer Research. She has been elected to leadership/advisory positions in top national/international pathology societies. She is an actively practicing surgical pathologist and heads the gynecologic surgical pathology service at Michigan Medicine. Dr. Cho is a recipient of the OCRA’s Rosalind Franklin Prize for excellence in ovarian cancer research (2021), and an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (2000), the Association of American Physicians (2008), the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (2011), and the National Academy of Medicine (2015).

Robert Coleman, MD
Photo of Robert Coleman, MD

Professor, Deputy Chair and Vice Chair of Clinical Research
Ann Rife Cox Chair in Gynecology
Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Coleman received his doctor of medicine degree from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska and completed his Obstetrics & Gynecology residency at Northwestern University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. He then completed his fellowship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in 1993. Prior to joining the M.D. Anderson faculty, he served as Vice Chairman, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Dr. Coleman’s research interests include drug discovery and novel therapeutics for ovarian, uterine, and cervical cancer, clinical trial development and statistical design. He serves as the institution’s Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) principal investigator (PI), serves on the NRG’s (formerly the Gynecologic Oncology Group) Ovarian and Developmental Therapeutics Committees, and is PI or co-PI for several GOG prospective clinical trials. He currently is a co-project leader for the MDACC Ovarian SPORE, the MDACC Uterine SPORE, the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, and the Marcus Foundation, each of which is sponsoring novel therapeutics trials in gynecologic cancers. He also serves as Physician Champion and PI for a new human therapeutic leveraging nanoparticle delivery of gene silencing non-coding RNA (siRNA). He has developed a mentoring program for junior investigator clinical trialists.

Dr Coleman has authored or coauthored over 400 scientific publications, including over 250 peer-reviewed articles, numerous book chapters, monographs, invited articles and textbooks including, The Handbook of Gynecologic Oncology, Clinical Lymphatic Mapping in Gynecologic Cancers, Prognostic and Predictive Factors in Gynecological Cancers, and Atlas of Gynecologic Oncology. In 2012, Dr Coleman was elected to the position of Secretary Treasurer for the International Gynecologic Cancer Society, and was Program Chair for their 2012 biannual meeting. In 2015, he was elected President for the Society of Gynecologic Oncology. He currently serves on the Gynecologic Oncology Group’s Board of Directors.

Oliver Dorigo, MD, PhD
Photo of Oliver Dorigo, MD, PhD

Oliver Dorigo, MD, PhD, is the Director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at Stanford.   He received hismedical degree from the University of Heidelberg Medical School in Germany.   Following his MD degree, he underwent residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Munich, Germany.  Dr. Dorigo then joined the Cancer Gene Therapy program at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in San Diego, CA, andparticipated in early clinical trials using genetically modified tumor cell vaccines for the treatment of cancer.  He subsequently completed his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA.  He earned a PhD degree in Molecular Biology for his work on the development of a new genetransfer system that uses helper dependent adenovirus mediated delivery of an Epstein Barr Virus episome.

Dr. Dorigo completed a clinical fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at UCLA/Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA.  He was a faculty member in the UCLA Division of Gynecologic Oncology from 2005 to 2013.  Dr. Dorigowas then appointed as the Director of the Stanford Gynecologic Oncology Service.  At Stanford, he is directing the Clinical Research Group which is conducting clinical trials for gynecologic cancers that mainly involve immunotherapy.He is currently leading an international clinical trial that investigates the efficacy of a novel vaccine in recurrent, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.  Another trial is studying the clinical efficacy of an oncolytic virus delivered by cytokine induce killer cells in patients with ovarian and other cancers.  Dr. Dorigo’s efforts are supported by the Stanford Cancer Institute and the Stanford Center for Cancer Cell Therapy.   In addition, Dr. Dorigo directs the Gynecologic Oncology ClinicalCare Program at the Stanford Women’s Cancer Center. His laboratory is focused on studying the role of macrophages in ovarian cancer.

Dr. Dorigo’s scientific work is published in various scientific journals, including Nature, Cell Development, Journal of Virology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Immunology, Cancer Research, Communicationsbiology and Cancer Gene Therapy..

Katherine Fuh, MD, PhD
Photo of Katherine Fuh, MD, PhD

Associate Professor and Joh A. Kerner Chair in Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director of Translational and Basic Research, Division of Gynecologic Oncology
University of California, San Francisco

Katherine Fuh, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor and the Joh A. Kerner Chair in Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of California, San Francisco. She is the Director of Translational and Basic Research for the Division of Gynecologic Oncology. She returns to UCSF in 2022 after 9 years on faculty at Washington University in St. Louis. She graduated from Johns Hopkins University and obtained her M.D. at Georgetown University School of Medicine. She then completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University and then entered the combined Gynecologic Oncology fellowship program at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Stanford. She is also a graduate of the ARTS (Advanced Residency Training at Stanford) program. During this time, she combined clinical fellowship with advanced research training to complete a PhD degree in Cancer Biology at Stanford University. She was also a NIH-supported Reproductive Scientist Development Program (RSDP) Scholar.

She serves on national committees for clinical trials and translational research including Translational Co-Chair for the Uterine Corpus Committee for the NRG Clinical Trials Group. She is the international PI for GOG-3059/ENGOT OV-66 which is a Phase 3, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled/Paclitaxel Study in Combination with Batiraxcept, an AXL inhibitor, for Platinum-resistant, High-Grade Serous Ovarian, Fallopian-Tube, and Peritoneal Cancer. She is the principal investigator on multiple grants from various federal and foundation sources. She is committed to developing better treatments for women with gynecologic cancers.

Ellen L. Goode, PhD
Photo of Ellen L. Goode, PhD

Professor of Epidemiology
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN

Dr. Ellen L. Goode is a Professor of Epidemiology within the Department of Health Sciences Research at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. Her research program focuses on the genetic and molecular epidemiology of ovarian cancer.

To better understand disease origins, Dr. Goode studies women with and without ovarian cancer who are seen at Mayo Clinic. Study participants respond to a research questionnaire and provide a blood sample, which allows for analysis of inherited and lifestyle factors. Tumors from affected women are also studied in order to further classification of clinically relevant histological, molecular, and immunological subtypes.

Focus areas

  • To find novel inherited factors in ovarian cancer, Dr. Goode examines variants throughout the genome via large collaborations. The international Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium combines data from more than 60 epidemiologic studies.
  • To better understand the functional impact of inherited and somatic variation, Dr. Goode examines expression and methylation in relation to genetics in the tumors of Mayo Clinic study participants and with the Ovarian Tumor Tissue Analysis consortium.
  • To tease out the role of immune factors in ovarian cancer risk and outcome, Dr. Goode focuses on the nuclear factor kappa-B family of transcription factors, regulatory T cells, and tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes in large multidisciplinary efforts.

Dr. Goode has contributed to over 275 peer-reviewed manuscripts and served in leadership roles within several ovarian cancer research consortia, the International Genetic Epidemiology Society, and the American Association for Cancer Research.

Gillian Hanley, PhD
Photo of Gillian Hanley, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of British Columbia

Dr. Gillian Hanley, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology at the University of British Columbia. She is a Canada Research Chair in Population-based Gynecologic and Perinatal outcomes, a CIHR New Investigator, a Michael Smith Foundation Scholar and a Janet D. Cottrelle foundation scholar. Dr. Hanley has training in epidemiology, health services research (PhD) and health economics (MA).

Her program of research uses the power of population-based administrative data to understand ovarian cancer prevention and survivorship. In ovarian cancer prevention, RCTs and prospective cohort studies can be very resource intensive due to the low lifetime risk of ovarian cancer (1.7%). The use of existing population-based datasets avoids the obstacles and therefore can be particularly useful for advancing research in these areas.

Specifically, Dr. Hanley has worked with the population-based datasets in BC to better understand opportunistic salpingectomy as an ovarian cancer prevention approach. Removal of the ovaries is not recommended for people at general population risk for ovarian cancer, as it is associated with increased total mortality, coronary heart disease, and osteoporosis. Thus, removal of the fallopian tubes during other pelvic surgeries (opportunistic salpingectomy) has arisen as a preventive strategy for people at average risk for ovarian cancer, who make up 80% of cases of high-grade serous cancer.

Dr. Hanley’s research has shown that opportunistic salpingectomy is safe, both in terms of perioperative adverse events and minor complications, and that there are no indications of an earlier age of onset of menopause following OS. She has been involved in work illustrating that opportunistic salpingectomy is cost-effective, and most recently has generated the first evidence that individuals who have undergone opportunistic salpingectomy have significantly fewer observed ovarian cancers than would otherwise be expected, suggesting that we are effectively preventing ovarian cancer through fallopian tube removal.

Beth Y. Karlan, MD
Photo of Beth Y. Karlan, MD

Vice Chair, Women’s Health Research
Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, Cancer Population Genetics
Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

Beth Y. Karlan, MD is Professor and Vice Chair of Women’s Health Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). She is also Director of Cancer Population Genetics at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Karlan’s research focuses on ovarian and other women’s cancers as well as inherited cancer susceptibility. She has authored over 400 research publications, is an American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor, and is Editor-in-Chief of the scientific journals Gynecologic Oncology and Gynecologic Oncology Reports. In 2012 Dr. Karlan was appointed by the Obama White House to serve on the National Cancer Advisory Board, and in 2015 she was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Karlan is a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and in 2019 was recognized with the OncLive Giants of Cancer award.

Blazing New Trails: Meet a Scientist

She has swum in the Amazon, gone ice fishing in the Arctic, traveled the Galapagos, and hang-glided in New Zealand. But the biggest trail Dr. Beth Karlan has blazed throughout her life has been in the field of gynecologic oncology.

Photo: Dr. Beth Karlan, wearing a helmet with reflector, climbing in a cave

Dr. Karlan is Professor and Vice Chair of Women’s Health Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA. She is also Director of Cancer Population Genetics at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA. And the Chair of OCRA’s Scientific Advisory Committee, and a multi-year recipient of OCRA grants.

Her career began nearly 40 years ago, at a time when women in medical school were a rarity. In fact, when she was a little girl and told her pediatrician she wanted to be a doctor when she grew up, he replied, “You can’t do that. You’ll take the spot away from a man. You’ll marry a doctor.” (She did, and they’ve been married 40 years.)

“There used to be a TV show that starred Richard Chamberlain as a very young handsome Dr. Kildare,” Beth recalled. “I used to watch the show, and in my dreams, I always saw myself as a colleague. I wasn’t one of the nurses running after him. I was a doctor along with him.”

Where it all started

Beth’s interest in medicine, and specifically cancer research, dates back to her teenage years when her grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was intrigued by the biology of the disease and at age 16 worked in a cancer research lab at her local hospital. She remembers thinking about what makes a cancer cell different from a normal cell; what gives it a property to keep growing non-stop.

Photo: Beth Y. Karlan M.D.

But it was one specific interaction she had while in medical school that firmly set Beth on the path to becoming a pioneer in ovarian cancer research. She was 29 years old, doing her Sub I rotations, and checking in on a patient, a 35-year-old woman, who was dying of ovarian cancer. Beth was with the other attendings, the chief resident, and fellow – all standing at the foot of the bed – and the woman sat up, pointed directly at Beth (the only other woman in a room full of men) and said, “What right do you have to be here in medical school pursuing your dreams when I’m lying in this bed dying?”

“I was taken aback and walked out,” recalled Beth. “But it resonated so meaningfully with me. I really took it to heart. It’s been an ongoing mantra, like an albatross around my neck. I felt I just needed to answer that question.”

Seeking answers to many questions

Beth has dug into this question from multiple angles throughout her career. She started first working predominantly in early detection, looking for ways to find ovarian cancer at stage one. She was a fellow and helped to treat Gilda Radner when she had ovarian cancer. Beth was struck by Gilda’s strong family history of cancer, and when the BRCA genes were later identified, Beth’s work morphed into a program focusing on inherited genetic susceptibility for cancer. More recently, she has been exploring the tumor’s microenvironment as another avenue for treatment.

“While my earliest question as a teen related to why a cancer cell is different than a normal cell,” Beth explained, “I came to understand that the cell does not live in isolation. So, what is different about the environment that it’s living in and how does that influence its behavior?”

She described it using a garden metaphor, where the cancer cell is a seed, and its microenvironment is the soil. If a weed is growing in a beautiful lawn, with mulch and nutrients, you could mow the weed down (similar to chemotherapy) or you could change the soil and make it into sand, so that nothing else could grow. This is what her last OCRA-funded project has been working on.

Photo: Dr. Beth Karlan wearing safari hat, shorts and sunglasses, standing next to Camel Thorn Trees

A purpose-driven life

What defines Beth outside of the lab is her family. “Those relationships help me work harder and not burn out,” she said. “I recognize how precious life is through those relationships, and they place me on that burning platform for why we need to be doing better for the women that we treat.”

She’s also an “adrenaline junkie,” getting up at 5am to go to the gym, working out seven days a week – whether it’s doing an elliptical, Pilates, hiking the hills in Southern California, or walking her dogs along the beach. “I’m addicted to my endorphins,” Beth said.

In this way – and through her travels, and her unending quest to solve the question posed to her as a young medical student – Beth is embodying the advice she would give to others.

“Live every day to its fullest. Tell those you love that you love them while you still can,” Beth said. “Have a purpose-driven life, but really embrace it as a piece of your character, so you can put your head on the pillow at night and know you’ve left the world a slightly better place.” 

Photo: Dr. Beth Karlan and a man stand smiling together in a bright, snowy setting.

Dineo Khabele, MD
Photo of Dineo Khabele, MD

Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Dineo Khabele, MD is the Mitchell & Elaine Yanow Professor and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. She is a recognized physician-scientist with extensive clinical and translational research experience in gynecologic oncology, with a focus on ovarian cancer. Dr. Khabele’s ovarian cancer research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Cancer Institute (NCI). Her ovarian cancer research interests include chemotherapy resistance, DNA repair, epigenetic targets for therapy, and targeting the tumor microenvironment. She is a dedicated educator and mentor to students, residents, fellows, and faculty. She is an advocate for women’s health, women’s cancers, and health equity.

Dr. Khabele is board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology and obtained undergraduate and medical degrees from Columbia College and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York. She completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at The New York Presbyterian Hospital, Weill-Cornell University Medical Center, followed by a clinical fellowship in gynecologic oncology and post-doctoral research training in cancer biology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center. She was a scholar of the Reproductive Scientist Development Program and the Amos Medical Faculty Development Program Scholar/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Susan Leighton, MA
Photo of Susan Leighton, MA

National Program Director, OCRA’s Survivors Teaching Students
OCRA Research Advocate

Susan Leighton is a 24-year survivor of recurrent ovarian cancer and 8-year survivor of breast cancer. Susan began her journey in advocacy when she co-founded the Lilies of the Valley, a gynecologic cancer support and awareness group in Huntsville, Alabama. Susan serves as a research advocate on the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance.

Susan is the National Program Director of OCRA’s Survivors Teaching Students program. Under her guidance the program has expanded both nationally and internationally reaching approximately 13,000 students annually. Susan serves as a consumer member of the Programmatic Panel for the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program and as an NCI patient advocate reviewer. She has participated as a PCORI reviewer, an FDA Patient Representative for both ovarian cancer and cardiovascular-renal drugs, and as a member of the NCI Ovarian Cancer Task Force. She has participated in numerous scientific meetings and as a mentor for the AACR Survivor-Scientist Program. She served as an OCRA Advocate Leader carrying the voice of the ovarian cancer community to Capitol Hill and in 2010 testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense in support of the DoD OCRP. She spearheaded state legislation establishing the “Alabama Study Commission for Gynecologic Cancers and continues to assist in implementation of the commission’s recommendations. Susan serves as a patient advocate on several ongoing research projects providing the patient’s perspective.

She was honored by OCRA with the Cindy Melancon Survivor Spirit Award and recognized by CURE Magazine as an Ovarian Cancer Hero in recognition of her work on behalf of the ovarian cancer community.

Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD
Photo of Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD

Chair and Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Chicago

Ernst Lengyel, M.D., Ph.D., a Gynecologic Oncologist, is Chair and a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Munich in 1992 with a doctorate in medicine, followed by a research fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He completed his residency at the University of Munich and then entered the combined Gynecologic Oncology fellowship program at the University of California/San Francisco (UCSF) and Stanford. In 2004, after one year on the clinical faculty at UCSF, he joined the University of Chicago faculty as a research scientist and clinician. In 2008 he was awarded the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research.

Dr Lengyel directs a translational research laboratory focused on understanding ovarian cancer metastasis and on developing and testing new treatments for ovarian cancer. Specifically, he looks at interactions of ovarian cancer cells with the normal cells surrounding them to understand how the cellular microenvironment affects the growth of cancer cells. The major goal of his laboratory is to translate his research findings into novel therapeutic treatments that will improve the survival of those with this devastating disease. His primary clinical focus is the surgical treatment of patients with ovarian cancer.

For more information on Dr. Lengyel’s research and clinical practice at the University of Chicago see:

Ursula Matulonis, MD, Grants Oversight Chair
Photo of Ursula Matulonis, MD

Medical Director, Medical Gynecologic Oncology
Disease Center Leader, Medical Gynecologic Oncology Program
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Associate Professor, Medicine
Harvard Medical School

Ursula A. Matulonis, MD, is Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She is the first recipient of the Brock-Wilson Family Chair at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She co-leads the Gynecologic Cancer Program within the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center and the Ovarian Cancer Specialized Program in Research Excellence (SPORE) grant from the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Matulonis has led several PARP inhibitor, anti-angiogenic agent, immunotherapy, antibody drug conjugate, and combination trials for ovarian cancer in the United States and internationally. She is the chair of the Gynecologic Cancer subcommittee of the NCI cooperative group, Alliance. She has received the Dana-Farber Dennis Thompson Compassionate Care Scholar award, the Lee M. Nadler “Extra Mile” Award, the Clearity Foundation award, the Zakim Award at Dana-Farber for patient advocacy, and recently in 2021, the Albany Medical College Alumni Association Distinguished Alumna Award.

After receiving her MD from Albany Medical College, she completed an internship and residency at the University of Pittsburgh, followed by a medical oncology fellowship at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA.

Kathleen Moore, MD, MS
Photo of Kathleen Moore, MD, MS

Virginia Kerley Cade Endowed Chair, Cancer Development
Professor of Gynecologic Oncology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Kathleen Moore is the Virginia Kerley Cade Endowed Chair in Cancer Development and Professor of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She currently serves as the Associate Director of Clinical Research and the Director of the Oklahoma TSET Phase I Program at the Stephenson Cancer Center. She also serves as the Program Director of the Gyn Oncology Fellowship Program in the Section of Gyn Oncology of the Department of OB/GYN. She completed her gyn oncology fellowship at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in 2007 and was recruited to join the faculty. Her primary areas of interest are in new drug development and Phase I clinical trials.

Carolyn Muller, MD, FACOG
Photo of Carolyn Muller, MD, FACOG

Professor and Director, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology
Associate Director, Clinical Research
Interim Director, Clinical Trials Office
The University of New Mexico School of Medicine

Dr. Muller is Professor and Chief of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of New Mexico and Associate Director for Clinical Research at the UNM Comprehensive Cancer Center. She is a trained physician-scientist who is very active clinically and in collaborative research with a focus on clinical-translational trials in ovarian and endometrial cancer. Dr. Muller’s research focus is in the surgical and medical management of ovarian cancer and has special expertise in clinical trials. Dr. Muller is nationally recognized for her scientific contributions in Gynecologic Oncology. She serves as a scientific reviewer for several National Institute of Health and Department of Defense committees. She has nearly thirty years of Gynecologic Oncology experience and continues to practice comprehensive contemporary management of all issues facing women with a gynecologic cancer. She cares for women from many diverse economic and cultural backgrounds in New Mexico and is interested in overcoming such barriers to clinical trials in her patient population.

Kenneth Nephew, PhD
Photo of Kenneth Nephew, PhD

Professor of Cellular and Integrative Physiology
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Indiana University School of Medicine
Assistant Director for Basic Science Research
Indiana University Simon Cancer Center

Dr. Nephew is a Professor of Cellular and Integrative Physiology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Indiana University. He leads the Ovarian Cancer Research Group at the IU Simon Cancer Center (IUSCC), serves as the Assistant Director for Basic Science Research Bloomington, and is a Program Leader of the Walther Cancer Institute, which is affiliated with IU. He is a Full Member of the Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis Program and the Breast Cancer Program at IUSCC. Dr. Nephew is the former Director of Graduate Education for the Medical Sciences at IU and is highly active in training and educating graduate and medical students in ovarian cancer research. He is the 2016 Indiana University Graduate School Faculty Mentor Award Winner. Professor Nephew joined Indiana University in 1996. He has dedicated his entire professional career to the study of ovarian cancer. Dr. Nephew’s ovarian cancer research has been continuously funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Cancer Institute (NCI) since 1996. He is the Principal Investigator and co-investigator on numerous grants from National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI), serves on various editorial boards, scientific advisory committees, and review panels for both the NIH, American Cancer Society (ACS), and Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program.

Dr. Nephew’s ovarian cancer research focuses on disease recurrence, and its resistance to chemotherapy. Dr. Nephew has made important contributions defining the characteristics of ovarian cancer stem cells and proposing new strategies to inhibit them. A new paradigm explaining tumor relapse involves the persistence of cancer stem cells. Dr. Nephew is a leader in the field characterizing these malignant cells in ovarian cancer. His collaborative team defined the first phenotype of ovarian cancer stem cells from patient samples. He has shown that ovarian cancer stem cells are chemotherapy resistant and likely responsible for secondary recurrences. His research to target these causative cells in ovarian tumors may enhance the potential to eradicate ovarian cancer. Toward this goal, his laboratory showed that targeting the epigenome, including aberrant DNA methylation (an “epigenetic hallmark” of most cancers including ovarian cancer) inhibited the outgrowth of ovarian cancer stem cells and delayed tumor recurrence. The project is designed to identify and target “epigenetic vulnerabilities” found in the pool of ovarian cancer stem cells that remains after platinum therapy. We will identify how key pathways are epigenetically maintained and regulated in ovarian cancer stem cells. These “epigenetic vulnerabilities” can then be targeted to switch off paths responsible for ovarian cancer stem cell survival after platinum therapy, eradicate the disease and improve the outcome for recurrent ovarian cancer patients.

Dr. Nephew received his undergraduate and graduate (PhD) degrees in Reproductive Physiology from the Ohio State University. He subsequently obtained postdoctoral training in cancer biology at the University of Kansas School of Medicine and then the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, where he was supported by ACS and NIH postdoctoral fellowships.

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD
Photo of Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD

Director, University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dean for Oncology, Biological Sciences Division
The Abbvie Foundation Distinguished Service Professor
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Chicago

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, is the Director of the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center (UCCCC), Dean for Oncology in the Biological Sciences Division, and the Abbvie Foundation Distinguished Service Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago. His research in tumor immunology and immunotherapy focuses on mechanisms of immune recognition in human ovarian cancer and the pre-clinical and clinical development of tumor antigen-targeted therapies. Currently he is Co-Principal Investigator on the Roswell Park – University of Chicago Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Ovarian Cancer. 

As the Director of UCCCC, Dr. Odunsi oversees all programmatic aspects of cancer at the University of Chicago including the three primary missions of research, patient care, and education. He sets the strategic direction of UCCCC, which emphasizes basic, translational, and clinical research efforts; collaborative cancer discovery and care; outreach to and engagement of the catchment area; and expansion of development opportunities for early career and promising cancer researchers. Dr. Odunsi also continues to treat patients and mentor physicians in the clinic.

Sandra Orsulic, PhD
Photo of Sandra Orsulic, PhD

Sandra Orsulic, PhD is a Professor in Residence of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Until recently, Dr. Orsulic was also a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Prior to moving to Los Angeles, she was an Assistant Molecular Pathologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she also served as Assistant Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. Her research includes studying the mechanisms by which the microenvironment contributes to cancer initiation and metastatic progression, identifying molecular markers for early cancer detection, and generating suitable pre-clinical models for testing targeted therapies. Dr. Orsulic’s research on ovarian cancer has been funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DoD), American Cancer Society (ACS), and Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA). Her studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Nature, Cancer Cell, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA and Cancer Research.  Dr. Orsulic is a member of the OCRA Scientific Advisory Committee and serves on several editorial boards and NIH review panels.

Celeste Leigh Pearce, PhD, MPH
Photo of Celeste Leigh Pearce, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Epidemiology
University of Michigan

Dr. Pearce is an ovarian cancer epidemiologist who studies lifestyle, personal, environmental and genetic factors which influence disease risk. Her group focuses on the role of endometriosis in ovarian cancer risk as well as shared risk factors between the two diseases. The clear cell and endometrioid histotypes of ovarian cancer are associated with endometriosis and it is possible that these ovarian cancers arise from endometriosis. They have identified a shared genetic component between ovarian cancer and endometriosis. They are also currently exploring whether known protective factors such as oral contraceptive use modify the relationship between ovarian cancer and endometriosis.

Another area of investigation for her group is understanding exogenous hormonal factors with respect to ovarian cancer. Oral contraceptive pills are chemopreventive for ovarian cancer, but the reason is unknown. They are carrying out clinical trials to try to uncover the reason for the protection so that they know whether changes in types of oral contraceptives in current use will impact the protective benefit enjoyed by women using the pill today. Conversely, use of menopausal hormone therapy is associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer. Her team is working to understand the precise nature of the association with respect to the type, timing and duration of use of these hormones. They are also studying whether the risk associated with menopausal hormone therapy is different based on underlying genetic variation.

Ultimately, Dr. Pearce is interested in preventing ovarian cancer. It is clear that the best path for ovarian cancer is preventing the disease from occurring in the first place or detecting it early. They have shown that there is a wide range of lifetime risk of ovarian cancer among women in the general population based on their experiences with respect to ovarian cancer risk and protective factors. They are working on developing improved risk stratification models so that women and their doctors can make informed decisions about the preventive strategies available to them now. In addition, this work will identify women appropriate for screening if an effective modality is discovered.

Dr. Pearce earned her PhD at the University of Southern California and had extensive training in genetics at what is now the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She collaborates with investigators from all over the world and is a founding member of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium and the Multidisciplinary Ovarian Cancer Outcomes Group. Consortia broaden the impact we can all have on ovarian cancer and she is proud to be a part of these multidisciplinary efforts!

Stephen C. Rubin, MD
Photo of Stephen C. Rubin, MD

Chief, Gynecologic Cancer
Paul Grotzinger and Wilbur Raab Chair in Surgical Oncology
Fox Chase Cancer Center

Stephen C. Rubin, M.D., joined Fox Chase Cancer Center at the Chief of Gynecologic Cancer and the Paul Grotzinger and Wilbur Raab Chair in Surgical Oncology in 2014.  Prior to joining Fox Chase, he spent 10 years at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology. Dr. Rubin is a nationally recognized expert in the treatment of gynecologic cancers, and he has a special interest in the multidisciplinary management of ovarian malignancies. He has authored more than 250 publications on gynecologic cancer, and has published six textbooks on gynecologic cancers, including Ovarian Cancer (Lippincott), Cervical Cancer and Preinvasive Neoplasia, (Lippincott), the SGO Handbook: Chemotherapy of Gynecologic Malignancies (Lippincott), and Uterine Cancer (Marcel-Deker). Dr. Rubin has been a member of the Ovarian Cancer Committee and the Tumor Biology Committee of the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG), and a member of the Council of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists. He has been a member of the editorial boards of several journals, including Gynecologic Oncology and the Annals of Surgical Oncology, and has also served on the editorial board of OncoLink. He is currently Deputy Editor of Gynecologic Oncology. He previously served for six years as a member of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s Division of Gynecologic Oncology, and recently returned as Chief of the Division, which is responsible for the fellowship accreditation process and the board certification process in gynecologic oncology nationally. He also serves as a Director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and is an examiner for the oral examinations in both gynecologic oncology and obstetrics and gynecology.

Dr. Rubin is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and did his residency and fellowship at Penn.

Carolyn D. Runowicz, MD
Photo of Carolyn D. Runowicz, MD

Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Professor, Obstetrics and Gynecology
Florida International University

Dr. Runowicz is a graduate of the Thomas Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. She did her training in obstetrics and gynecology and completed a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Medical Center in New York City. She was also a Galloway Fellow at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Dr. Runowicz is a nationally prominent expert in gynecologic cancers and women’s health. Before coming to FIU, Runowicz was professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and held the Northeast Utilities Chair in Experimental Oncology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. She also served as director of the Carole and Ray Neag Comprehensive Cancer Program at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

Among her many leadership positions in national organizations, she was president of the American Cancer Society, the first woman president of the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists and chair of the National Cancer Advisory Board. She is the first gynecologic oncologist to serve on the Board of Directors for the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the world’s largest cancer organization. She also is the author of more than 200 publications, chapters and several books for the public.

Among her many research interests, Dr. Runowicz has largely focused on ovarian, cervical, and breast cancers. She has contributed more than 100 papers to medical literature, including scientific abstracts and textbook chapters. She is widely published in scholarly journals, including the “American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology” and the “Journal of Clinical Oncology and Cancer.”

As an outspoken advocate for women’s health, Dr. Runowicz lectures extensively on issues such as gynecologic cancers, menopause management and breast cancer. She has very candidly shared insights of her own battle with breast cancer, both in speaking appearances and in her book “To Be Alive: A Women’s Guide to a Full Life After Cancer,” published in 1995.

Co-authored by Dr. Runowicz and her husband Sheldon Cherry, M.D., a New York City gynecologist, “The Menopause Book: A Guide to Women’s Health After 40″ was published in 1994. She also co-authored with Jeanne Petrek, M.D., director of the Surgical Program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, “Women and Cancer: A Thorough and Compassionate Resource for Patients and Their Families” published in 1999. In 2004, Drs. Runowicz and Cherry authored “The Answer to Cancer,” offering a comprehensive look at cancer prevention.

Ie-Ming Shih, MD, PhD
Photo of Ie-Ming Shih, MD, PhD

Richard TeLinde Distinguished Professor of Gynecologic Pathology
Co-Director, Breast and Ovarian Cancer Program
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Dr. Ie-Ming Shih is the Richard TeLinde Distinguished Professor (Endowed Chair) of Gynecologic Pathology and directs this research program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (1,2). He also co-directs the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Program (3) at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Hopkins. Dr. Shih received his MD from Taipei Medical University and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a board-certified pathologist, having completed a clinical fellowship in gynecologic pathology followed by a cancer molecular genetics fellowship at Hopkins. His research focuses on exploring the genomics and pathogenesis of ovarian and endometrial cancer, developing new target-based therapy and applying innovative technology for early detection of gynecologic cancer (2). Dr. Shih’s research laboratory has made several discoveries that contribute to our understanding of the pathogenesis of ovarian cancer, including uncovering the genomic landscapes of different histologic subtypes of ovarian cancer, new mechanisms behind chemoresistance, the tumor suppressor roles of ARID1A, and the possible origin of ovarian high-grade serous carcinoma.

Several researchers in the TeLinde Gynecologic Pathology Research Program and Cancer Center have been devoted to identifying and characterizing potential new molecules that can be exploited to target ovarian cancer. The timely and generous gift from the OCRA allows him to build a research team devoted to developing new treatment modalities to improve clinical outcome in ovarian cancer patients. Dr. Shih has published extensively in the field of ovarian cancer research and served on many advisory and editorial boards. In addition to his clinical, research, and teaching obligations, Dr. Shih is also a passionate photographer (4) who wishes to use his talent to help raise fund for ovarian cancer research.

Anil K. Sood, MD
Photo of Anil K. Sood, MD

Professor and Vice Chair, Translational Research
Co-Director, Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNA
Director, Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Center
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Anil Sood is Professor and Vice Chair for Translational Research in the Departments of Gynecologic Oncology and Cancer Biology and co-director of the Center for RNA Interference and Non-Coding RNA at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

He is also Director of the multi-disciplinary Blanton-Davis Ovarian Cancer Research Program. Dr. Sood’s research is focused in three main areas: 1) effects of neuroendocrine stress hormones on ovarian cancer growth and progression, 2) development of new strategies for in vivo siRNA delivery, and 3) development of novel anti-vascular therapeutic approaches.

Dr. Sood has received major recognition for his research accomplishments including the Hunter Award, the Margaret Greenfield/Carmel Cohen Excellence in Ovarian Cancer Research Prize, and the GCF/Claudia Cohen Research Foundation Prize for Outstanding Gynecologic Cancer Researcher. Dr. Sood is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Shelley Tworoger, PhD
Photo of Shelley Tworoger, PhD

Associate Center Director of Population Science
Moffitt Cancer Center
Tampa, FL

The goal of my research program is to improve prevention recommendations and identify women at high risk of breast and ovarian cancer by elucidating the etiology behind their development and progression. My integrative approach leverages complex epidemiologic studies in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team of researchers. My primary focus is to: (i) identify novel risk factors (e.g., psychological distress) and their mechanisms for women’s cancers, (ii) understand how the host macroenvironment impacts tumor heterogeneity and the associated microenvironment, (iii) evaluate novel factors related to survival among cancer patients, and (iv) implement consortial approaches to develop clinically actionable risk prediction models. A common thread in my research is a strong interest in optimal integration of biologic markers into epidemiologic studies. A key research accomplishment is creating and leading the data coordinating center for the Ovarian Cancer Cohort Consortium (OC3; n=25 cohorts; I manage implementation of consortium guidelines, data curation and harmonization and the conduct of statistical analyses. The OC3 has published 12 articles (60% in journals with an impact factor >10; 50% I was [co]-senior author). We have obtained 10 related grants, many led by junior faculty that I mentored. I am PI of a grant to conduct a blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial in the neoadjuvant chemotherapy setting in ovarian cancer patients. From 410 articles (>16,000 citations, H-index=68, Web of Science), I am first author or senior/co-senior author on >140. I have continuously held R01 or equivalent funding since 2006.

Jason D. Wright, MD
Photo of Jason D. Wright, MD

Dr. Wright is the Sol Goldman Associate Professor, Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, and Vice Chair of Academic Affairs in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and New York Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Wright received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Missouri and completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology and fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Washington University in St. Louis. He is board certified in gynecologic oncology as well as obstetrics and gynecology.

Dr. Wright’s primary area of research focus is comparative effectiveness and outcomes research. His team uses large scale datasets to analyze new treatments and technologies to reduce the burden of disease and design interventions to improve health. His work has examined the use of novel drugs and technologies for cancer patients, surgical quality, fertility preservation in cancer patients, and the management of complications in cancer patients. Dr. Wright’s work has had an important impact on public health policy and has been widely recognized. Dr. Wright has published more than 500 scientific manuscripts as well as a numerous chapters and textbooks. His work has been funded by the NIH and a number of other societies and philanthropic sources. Dr. Wright serves on a number of grant review committees and editorial boards, is the Editor-in-Chief elect of Obstetrics & Gynecology and lectures nationally and internationally.

Former Members:

  • Jeff Boyd, PhD
  • Carmel J. Cohen, MD
  • Alan D. D’Andrea, MD
  • Ronny I. Drapkin, MD, PhD
  • Douglas A. Levine, MD
  • Bob Ozols, MD, PhD
  • Daniel J. Powell Jr., PhD
  • Michael Seiden, MD, PhD
  • Elizabeth Swisher, MD