2002 Individual Investigator Award Recipient — Andrew K. Godwin, PhD
The death rate from ovarian cancer is appallingly high. Most deaths occur because the tumor has spread from the ovary before detection of the disease. Thus, in order to cut death rates, either ovarian cancer must be detected earlier in the disease process or treatments for metastatic ovarian tumors must improve. Recently a drug referred to as Gleevec (imatinib mesylate; Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Basel, Switzerland) was shown to be effective in the treatment of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia or gastrointestinal stromal tumors. This drug inhibits tyrosine kinases, a type of enzyme which is abnormally active and plays an important role in the development of certain types of cancers. However, little is known regarding the sensitivity and potential responsiveness of ovarian tumors to Gleevec. Our studies will evaluate the effects of this drug on ovarian cancer and identify the molecular pathways altered in response to this promising drug in ovarian cancer. The research carried out by our group will begin to address the sensitivity of ovarian tumor cells to Gleevec and identify important genetic markers of clinical response and potential future therapeutic targets.
Dr. Andrew K. Godwin is the Chancellors Distinguished Chair in Biomedical Sciences endowed Professor and the Director of Molecular Oncology in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Kansas Medical Center. In the latter position, he is the founding director of the Clinical Molecular Oncology Laboratory, a CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited molecular diagnostics laboratory, and heads the institutional efforts in the area of precision medicine. He was recently awarded a COBRE grant from the NIGMS to develop the Kansas Institute for Precision Medicine. Dr. Godwin earned his BS in Cellular Biology from the University of Kansas and his PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Pennsylvania while carrying out his thesis research at Fox Chase Cancer Center (FCCC) in Philadelphia. During his 26 fruitful years at FCCC, he climbed the ranks from graduate student to Senior Member (full Professor with tenure). In late 2010, Dr. Godwin was recruited to the KU Medical Center as the KU Cancer Center’s Associate Director for Translational Research and his engaged participation contributed towards NCI designation in 2012, resulted in him being named the Deputy Director in 2013. Dr. Godwin also serves as the Director of the KUMC’s Biospecimen Repository Core Facility (BRCF) as well as the Scientific Director for the Biomarker Discovery Laboratory (BDL). He also leads the ovarian cancer research-working group at KUMC and is a member of the Investigator Initiated Trial Steering Committee. He was named a Kansas Bioscience Authority Eminent Scholar in 2010 and his contributions towards education and training was recognized when he was presented the KUMC School of Medicine Achievement Award for Mentoring Post-Docs in 2014, the KU Medical Center’s Faculty Investigator Research Award in 2015, the University of Kansas Cancer Center Director’s William Jewell Team Science Award in 2017, the KUCC Director’s Basic Science Award in 2018 and most recently the prestigious 2018 Chancellor’s Club Award.
Dr. Godwin is a leader in the field of translational research and precision medicine, and his laboratories at KUMC continue to focus on various aspects of both basic and translational research, with an emphasis on early detection of cancer, predictive and prognostic biomarkers, liquid biopsies based on extracellular vesicles, molecular therapeutics, companion diagnostics, clinical trials, and biosample ascertainment. He is internationally recognized for his molecular biology/genetic studies of sarcoma (e.g., GIST and Ewing Sarcoma), breast and ovarian cancer, and his efforts to help bridge the gap between basic and clinical science in order to improve patient care. Dr. Godwin has been the Translational Science Co-chair for many Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG, now a part of the NRG) clinical trials evaluating molecularly targeted agents in recurrent ovarian and endometrial cancer patients. He is a currently a member of the Early Therapeutics and Rare Cancers Committee and the Vice Chair of the Breast Translational Medicine subcommittee of the Southwest Oncology Group (SWOG) and remains active in ovarian cancer advocacy.