For several decades, scientists have believed that cells from the ovarian surface epithelium are where ovarian cancer originates. Surface epithelium emerged as a candidate because of its ability to form different types of cells, its responsiveness to women’s hormones, and its presumed susceptibility to chronic disruption and repair during ovulation. But direct evidence of the transformation of benign epithelial cells to malignant epithelial cells in ovarian cancer has not been demonstrated. Evidence from women with inherited BRCA mutations suggests that ovarian cancer might start in the fallopian tubes. Dr. Clauss has evidence that a region of the fallopian tube, called the fimbria, might be the source for sporadic and hereditary ovarian cancers. He hypothesizes that this region is susceptible to DNA damaging agents that are associated with ovulatory stress and leads to precursor lesions. In his project, he will study how DNA damage and cellular changes arise in the fimbria and try to find the agents responsible.
Adam Clauss is a Research Fellow in Medicine, in the Division of Oncology, at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, MA.