2011 Early Career Investigator Grant Recipient — Joanna Burdette, PhD
Little is known about the earliest events and the tissues in the body that give rise to ovarian cancer. Does the cancer arise from surface cells, or epithelial cells, on the ovary, fallopian tube or both? The answer is unknown. Developing reliable models of these tissues should help in understanding early pathways of disease. To create models and to determine which cell is responsible, scientists take cells from the different tissues, grow them in culture, and try to transform a normal cell into a cancerous cell. But having a 3-D cell culture model would improve upon traditional two-dimensional systems because it replicates the structures in the body. Regardless of where the cancer originates, ovulation increases the risk for ovarian cancer. In her study, Dr. Burdette aims to develop novel 3-D organ cultures to test whether ovulation transforms both the ovarian surface epithelium and the fallopian tube epithelium to generate ovarian cancer. Her project would result in new technologies for studying precursor cells of ovarian cancers, new cell lines to investigate the role of the fallopian tube in ovarian cancer, and new pathways for therapeutic intervention.
This grant has been made possible through the support of a generous donation from Ovarian Cycle.
Dr. Joanna E. Burdette joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2007. She earned her B.S. from Emory University in Biology in 1999. She completed a Ph.D. in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy at UIC in 2003 studying botanical dietary supplements for the alleviation of menopausal symptoms. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University under the direction of Dr. Teresa K. Woodruff until 2006. Her postdoctoral research centered on ovulation, breast, and ovarian cancers. Dr. Burdette served as a Research Assistant Professor for one year in the Institute for Women’s Health Research at Northwestern. She was the recipient of a Women in Endocrinology abstract award from the Endocrine Society, the Vahlteich scholar award from the College of Pharmacy at UIC, a predoctoral NRSA fellowship, two postdoctoral NRSA fellowships, and a K12 Building Interdisciplinary Research Career’s in Women’s Health faculty training award from the Office for Research in Women’s Health. Since 2007, she has worked to develop three-dimensional models of normal ovarian surface and fallopian tube cells to determine the earliest events in ovarian cancer.
Visit the Burdette Lab website for more information.