Dr. Sarah Gitto is a postdoctoral researcher at the Ovarian Cancer Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Dr. Gitto earned her Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida in 2017, where she was awarded numerous honors including induction into the Order of Pegasus, the most prestigious award at her alma mater. Her graduate studies focused on developing autologous NK cell therapy for ovarian cancer, delineating the role that chronic inflammation has on the development of pancreatic cancer, and testing novel molecular therapeutics to treat pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Gitto is currently working on a collaborative project under the mentorship of Dr. Daniel J Powell and Dr. Fiona Simpkins to develop novel orthotropically implanted patient-derived xenograph models of mutant ovarian cancer that are also reconstituted with patient-matched autologous tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). The ultimate goal of this study is to develop BRCA1/2 mutant PAPR inhibitor resistant tumor/TILs models and to use these models to test the efficacy of immune modulating therapies, including checkpoint inhibitors. PARP inhibitors are clinically approved for ovarian cancer maintenance therapy and are effective for use in BRCA mutant ovarian cancer. However, the majority of patients develop PARP inhibitor resistance and ultimately tumor recurrence. The support from the OCRA will equip her with the tools to discover new effective therapeutic strategies for this patient population.