Unfortunately, most ovarian cancers are first diagnosed as advanced metastatic disease when the potential for a cure is slim. Dr. Risinger’s research is aimed at understanding how some ovarian cancers are able to rapidly spread while others remain confined to the ovary. Understanding the differences in the biology of these cancers is a critical in developing more effective treatments for these cancers. Particularly, Dr. Risinger is focused on the role of a newly identified gene, called OVCAPDC1, because it is highly expressed in late stage cancers but undetectable in the normal ovary, stage 1 ovarian cancer and in other adult tissues. Understanding why a gene is expressed so specifically in metastatic cancer but not in other cases makes it a potential marker for prognosis and diagnosis and for the development of therapies that counteract it.
John Risinger, Ph.D., who began his career as a biologist at NIEHS in 1989, is the new director of Gynecologic Oncology Research at the Michigan State University (MSU) College of Human Medicine community-based program in Grand Rapids, Mich. The MSU program works in conjunction with Spectrum Health and the Van Andel Institute. Risinger will begin his work building a laboratory research team that will eventually move to facilities at the Van Andel Institute.