While some ovarian cancers arise in women with inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, the genetic changes responsible for most ovarian cancers, which are not inherited, remains unknown. Understanding these latter genetic changes could lead to better diagnostics and treatment for the disease. Dr. Berchuck is the Principal Investigator of the International Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC)—that includes researchers at 19 institutions in the U.S., the U.K., and Australia–which aims to find subtle genetic changes, called polymorphisms, that may exist and predispose women to ovarian cancer. Because such polymorphism studies require large populations to compare women with ovarian cancer to woman who have not had the disease, the International OCAC was founded to facilitate the collaboration to get study subjects. The other goals of the OCAC are: finding ovarian cancer-susceptibility polymorphisms, understanding the relationship between polymorphisms and hormone pathways and investigating the links between known risk factors for ovarian cancer and polymorphisms.
Co-Director, Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, Breast/Ovarian Cancer Program
For the past 35 years Dr. Berchuck has been actively involved in caring for women with gynecologic cancers on a daily basis while also leading a nationally-recognized program in translational research program related to the molecular origins of ovarian cancer. He has served in many roles related to ovarian cancer translational research including being a member of the TCGA ovarian and endometrial cancer working groups and chairing two study sections for the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program. He also led the scientific advisory board of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund for 8 years. With his epidemiology colleague Joellen Schildkraut, Ph.D., he has been one of the leaders of the North Carolina Ovarian Cancer Study, which seeks to identify common genetic polymorphisms that affect ovarian cancer susceptibility. In 2005 he was one of the founding members of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC), an international group of over 100 studies working together to validate the results of genetic association studies in ovarian cancer. For 17 years he served as head of the OCAC steering committee during a time when OCAC identified 35 genome wide significant SNPs associated with ovarian cancer risk. He has extensive experience in the field of hereditary cancer genetics and has been actively involved in managing patients with high penetrance mutations that predispose to ovarian and endometrial cancer. In 2022 he was appointed as one of the medical directors of the Duke Clinical Cancer Genetics Program. Dr. Berchuck has been involved in national activities related to ovarian cancer, including serving as President of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology in 2007. He is also a member of the NCCN ovarian cancer guidelines committee.