2008 Recipient — Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD

Headshot of Dr. Ernst Lengyel, wearing white lab coat with UChicago At the Forefront logo

Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD

Understanding the Molecular Biology of Metastasis in Ovarian Cancer

Project Summary

The ability of ovarian cancer cells to metastasize throughout the peritoneal cavity is primarily responsible for the high mortality rate of patients with this disease. Studies that identify the mechanisms which drive ovarian cancer metastases are likely to lead to new and effective therapies. Irregularities with a molecule, called C-Met, have been implicated in the progression and metastasis of a number of different types of cancers, including ovarian. But understanding the role of c-Met in cancer metastasis has been limited by significant differences in the way c-Met functions in humans and in laboratory animals. In order to determine how c-Met promotes the metastasis of ovarian cancer, Dr. Lengyl will use a novel 3-D co-culture model of human stromal and cancer cells. Using this model, he hopes to gain insight into the role of c-Met and the molecules that bind to it in ovarian cancer. Applying this knowledge could lead to novel therapies for patients suffering from ovarian cancer.

Areas of Research:


Chair and Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Chicago

Ernst Lengyel, M.D., Ph.D., a Gynecologic Oncologist, is Chair and a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Chicago. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Munich in 1992 with a doctorate in medicine, followed by a research fellowship at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He completed his residency at the University of Munich and then entered the combined Gynecologic Oncology fellowship program at the University of California/San Francisco (UCSF) and Stanford. In 2004, after one year on the clinical faculty at UCSF, he joined the University of Chicago faculty as a research scientist and clinician. In 2008 he was awarded the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Clinical Scientist Award in Translational Research.

Dr Lengyel directs a translational research laboratory focused on understanding ovarian cancer metastasis and on developing and testing new treatments for ovarian cancer. Specifically, he looks at interactions of ovarian cancer cells with the normal cells surrounding them to understand how the cellular microenvironment affects the growth of cancer cells. The major goal of his laboratory is to translate his research findings into novel therapeutic treatments that will improve the survival of those with this devastating disease. His primary clinical focus is the surgical treatment of patients with ovarian cancer.

For more information on Dr. Lengyel’s research and clinical practice at the University of Chicago see: