2017 Early Career Investigator Grant Recipient — Ilana Chefetz, PhD
We recently demonstrated that chemotherapy resistant ovarian cancer stem-like cells (CSC) can be identified by a protein activity known as ALDH. The unique expression of this protein/s in CSC allows a unique opportunity to develop therapeutics specifically targeting CSC. We have developed novel ALDH inhibitors which appear to induce ovarian CSC cell death. CSC die by a novel necroptotic mechanism. We propose to identify and characterize in-depth metabolic aspects of this novel necroptotic mechanism. Taken together, these studies will expand our understanding of ALDH inhibition-induced necroptosis and energy metabolism and provide critical pre-clinical studies for a potential novel CSC targeted therapeutic to prevent recurrent disease.
Ilana Chefetz obtained her BSc and PhD from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. As a graduate student she was awarded Neeman Excellence Scholarship and Technion Woman Excellence Scientist Prize to continue for postdoctoral studies abroad. In 2009 Dr. Chefetz was awarded a Life Science Research Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and was a recipient of 2010 AACR Scholar-in-Training Award. After a Postdoctoral position with Dr. Gil Mor at Yale, Dr. Chefetz moved to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center to work with Dr. Ron Buckanovich. Her research has been focused on developing a novel therapeutics which target ALDH, an enzyme specifically expressed in chemotherapy resistant cancer stem-like cells. At University of Michigan Ilana received Ann and Sol Schreiber Mentored Investigator award, Foundation for Women’s Cancer WeRoc Research grant, and Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian cancer Pilot Award. In addition Dr. Chefetz was awarded University of Michigan 2015 Outstanding postdoctoral fellow prize, and in 2016 was promoted to a Research Assistant Professor position. Her research focuses on molecular aspects of cell programmed necrosis-necroptosis.