OCRA is pleased to announce the recipients of two research prizes, selected by members of our Scientific Advisory Committee for their notable contributions to the field of ovarian cancer research and commitment to future discoveries.
Dr. Kathleen Cho Awarded Rosalind Franklin Excellence in Ovarian Cancer Research Prize
The Rosalind Franklin Excellence in Ovarian Cancer Research Prize is an annual prize awarded to an individual scientist in recognition of outstanding contributions to basic science, translational or clinical research in ovarian cancer. Named for molecular biologist Dr. Rosalind Elsie Franklin, who played a vital role in discovering the structure of DNA before her death from ovarian cancer at age 37, this award honors individuals who continue her legacy of excellence.
Kathleen Cho, MD, is Peter A. Ward Professor of Pathology at Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan, and Director for Gynecologic and Surgical Pathology and Co-Leader of the Cancer Genetics Program at Rogel Cancer Center. Dr. Cho is recognized in the field of gynecologic oncology for her diagnostic expertise and laboratory research in ovarian cancer, as she endeavors to improve our understanding of the disease by bridging clinical, translational and basic research.
Dr. Cho’s research has shed light on how gynecologic cancers develop, leading to significant discoveries, including identification of the molecular mechanisms by which human papillomaviruses (HPV) contribute to development of cervical cancer.
At University of Michigan, Dr. Cho shifted her research emphasis to ovarian cancer, recognizing the critical need to further understand disease subtypes. Leading a multidisciplinary team, she revealed that ovarian mucinous, clear cell, endometrioid, and serous carcinomas shared some commonalities in gene expression, yet could be differentiated by distinct patterns of gene expression.
With an eye toward improving translational relevance, Dr. Cho developed multiple innovative, genetically-engineered mouse models of ovarian cancer, which are more genetically representative of humans than standard mouse models, and allow for basic study of oncogenesis of ovarian cancer. Her work has furthered scientific understanding of potential origins of high-grade serous ovarian cancer in the fallopian tube, and identified signaling pathway defects in the development of endometrioid carcinoma. Currently, her research team is examining how different therapeutics potentially inhibit development of HGSC and treat late-stage tumors.
Dr. Marion Curtis Awarded Schreiber Research Prize for Outstanding Mentored Investigators
The Schreiber Research Prize for Outstanding Mentored Investigators is a biennial prize awarded to a junior researcher who has used OCRA funding to impact the field of ovarian cancer research by making a significant discovery, an important contribution to literature, or transitioning to a full-time faculty position. The award is named for Ann Schreiber, who passed away from ovarian cancer, and her husband Sol Schreiber, who founded Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (now OCRA) with a mission to cure ovarian cancer in her honor.
Marion Curtis, PhD, is Assistant Professor at Mayo Clinic, Department of Immunology. She credits OCRA’s Ann and Sol Schreiber Mentored Investigator Award, which she received in 2016, as a catalyst for her early success in the field, and for her recent transition to full-time faculty at Mayo Clinic, where her work focuses on immune cell metabolism and tumor antigens.
Dr. Curtis’ OCRA-funded project, “CT45 as a Mediator of Chemosensitivity and Immunotherapy Target,” was performed under mentorship of Dr. Ernst Lengyel, at University of Chicago. The groundbreaking study led to identification of a prognostic biomarker as well as an important tumor antigen for ovarian cancer, and has been patented for future development of strategies to target CT45 therapeutically.
This year, Dr. Curtis was awarded funding from the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program in the Ovarian Cancer Academy, as an Early-Career Investigator, allowing her to continue her important work focused on improving survival and quality of life for those afflicted with ovarian cancer.