2023 Recipient — Bisiayo Fashemi, PhD

Bisiayo Fashemi headshot, smiling in office

Bisiayo Fashemi, PhD

Organoids to Evaluate an Epigenetic Drug Regimen for HR Proficient Ovarian

Project Summary

Ovarian cancer is a rare but deadly disease and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States. Greater than 60% of women are diagnosed with high-grade serous ovarian cancers. Standard first-line treatment for ovarian cancer combines radical surgery with platinum-based chemotherapy, followed by maintenance treatment, of which the majority of patients will achieve initial clinical remission. However, up to 70% of patients will experience a recurrence and ultimately succumb to chemotherapy-resistant disease. Another persistent critical clinical problem is the lack of effective treatment options for poor prognostic chemotherapy-resistant ovarian cancer. There is an increasing need to identify better treatment options for women who do not respond to first-line drugs (chemotherapy and PARPi). Combination therapy using epigenetic drugs, which are drugs that regulate gene expression, have been shown to be effective in these resistant cancers. Here, we propose to use patient-derived ovarian cancer organoids, which are 3D miniaturized and simplified organs made from tumor biopsies and ascites fluid, to screen for novel combination therapies.

This grant was made possible in part by a generous donation from Allison Danré, in memory of Cecile Hryhorczuk


Dr. Bisiayo Fashemi is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Dineo Khabele in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Fashemi obtained her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biochemistry at Union College in New York, where she was a Posse Scholar. As an undergraduate, Dr. Fashemi conduct research under the co-mentorship of Dr. Barbara Danowski and Dr. Mary Carroll of the Biology and Chemistry departments. During her undergraduate summers, Dr. Fashemi took part in Opportunities in Genomics Research (OGR) at Washington University School of Medicine, where she studied gastrulation in the developmental biology laboratory of Dr. Lilanna Solnica-Krezel. In 2016, Dr. Fashemi began her PhD training under the guidance of Dr. Indira Mysorekar at Washington University in St Louis. For her dissertation, Dr. Fashemi characterized the novel role of IFRD1 in urothelial plasticity and regeneration. In addition, she examined how vaginal estrogen therapy reduces recurrent urinary tract infections in the aging bladder. Dr. Fashemi’s doctoral work was supported by the Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Scholars Program and an Infectious Disease/ Basic Microbial Pathogenic Mechanism T32 Training Program from the NIH. She was a 2019 inductee of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society. After completing her PhD in 2021, Dr. Fashemi began her post-doctoral fellowship in ovarian cancer research where she studies the use of combination therapies to overcome genetic and acquired PARPi resistances using 3D organoid models.