2008 Recipient — Gary Leiserowitz, MD

Gary Leiserowitz, MD

The Carbohydrate Components of Cellular Molecules: A New Way to Diagnose Ovarian Cancer?

Project Summary

Earlier detection of ovarian cancer is the holy grail of ovarian cancer research. While many researchers focus on proteins and genes specific to ovarian cancer as possible diagnostic markers, Dr. Leiserowitz studies another class of molecules—carbohydrates bound to cellular proteins or fats–that may provide a better chemical fingerprint of the disease. He has developed novel methods to identify glycans, the carbohydrate components of molecules in cells, and has created analytical tools that distinguish normal and cancer cells by their glycan components. Although glycoproteins from ovarian cancer cells contribute only a small fraction of the overall protein composition of human serum, Dr. Leiserowitz’s preliminary investigations have identified a unique glycan pattern in patients with epithelial ovarian cancer compared to healthy female controls. His methods also can distinguish between cases and controls better than the current standard, CA 125. In this study, Dr. Leiserowitz plans to improve the methods he has to developed, with the aim of producing a better diagnostic for ovarian cancer and to improve understanding of how aberrant glycans contribute to the disease.


Dr. Gary Leiserowitz is a Professor and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at UC Davis Medical Center, where he is also the Fellowship Director. He completed his fellowship in Gynecologic Oncology at the Mayo Clinic in 1993. He subsequently joined the Gyn Oncology Division at UCDMC in 1993 and has remained there since. Dr. Leiserowitz’ research interests have included the immunology of HPV infection, clinical outcomes research involving population-based databases, and collaborative work on use of glycomics analysis as a biomarker for ovarian cancer. He is on the Editorial Board of Gynecologic Oncology and is a reviewer for multiple other journals. He is currently President of the Western Association of Gynecologic Oncologists, and on the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists Council.