2024 Recipient — Selvendiran Karuppaiyah, PhD

Photo: Dr. Selvendiran Karuppaiyah in professional headshot

Selvendiran Karuppaiyah, PhD

Identification of early molecular events and a novel biomarker for high grade serous ovarian cancer

Project Summary

High-grade serous ovarian cancer is the most common form of ovarian cancer. It is also the most lethal, as most patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries. Despite its frequency and lethality, there are currently no useful early detection methods or targeted treatments for this cancer. This study will investigate the role of a cancer-causing protein called TMEM205 in ovarian cancer formation. Scientists have shown that TMEM205 plays a key role in the release of extracellular vesicles (EVs) – essentially “biological bubbles” from cells – which play a role in cell communication as well as in the growth and spread of some cancers. We think that this cancer-causing protein interacts with other molecules to prevent the production of proteins that can suppress cancer growth. We plan to first determine whether high levels of TMEM205 proteins affects EVs and cancer-suppressing proteins, causing cells to grow in the fallopian tubes, where this ovarian cancer is believed to originate. We will then study the relationship among all of these proteins and EVs in patient samples to help us understand the precise mechanisms by which TMEM205 influences ovarian cancer growth. We will use this information to eventually develop innovative strategies for early detection and targeted treatments to improve outcomes for ovarian cancer patients, increasing survival and quality of life for patients with this deadly disease.


Selvendiran Karuppaiyah joined the faculty of The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 2011, where he is currently an Associate Professor in Gynecologic Oncology. He earned his PhD from the University of Madras in India, focusing on cancer therapeutics, then completed his post-doctoral training at Kurume Medical University in Japan, where his research targeted STAT3 in liver cancer. An accomplished researcher with more than 17 years of experience, Dr. Karuppaiyah has been repeatedly recognized for his exceptional contributions to the field of cancer research. Dr. Karuppaiyah received the Young Investigator Award from the Kaleidoscope of Hope (KOH) Foundation in 2008. Additional notable awards include the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund’s Liz Tilberis Scholars Program in 2011 and its subsequent renewal in 2014. After securing funding for his first NCI R01 grant in 2014, he continued to excel, receiving three grants from the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program (DOD OCRP) from 2020 to 2021, along with the DOD PRCR Award in 2022.

Dr. Karuppaiyah’s research focuses on TMEM205 and PIAS3 roles in high-grade serous ovarian cancer initiation, alongside investigating exosome-derived protein candidates as early biomarkers for high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSOC). Dr. Karuppaiyah has also developed novel TMEM205 inhibitors for ovarian cancer. Collaborating closely with Dr. Cohn, MD, and Dr. Suarez, MD at The Ohio State University, he seeks innovative approaches to evaluate early oncogenic protein expression and extracellular vesicle secretion proteins as potential biomarkers for HGSOC. Dr. Karuppaiyah expects to use this information enhance the understanding of HGSOC tumorigenesis and develop targeted therapeutic approaches.