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Grant will help USC researcher ID genetics for ovarian cancer

by Amy Hamaker
Simon Gayther, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School, and his co-investigators will use the grant to further research on ovarian cancer.
Simon Gayther, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School, and his co-investigators will use the grant to further research on ovarian cancer.

Approximately 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed this year, and 15,500 women will die from the disease, according to estimates from the American Cancer Society. Genetic factors can increase a woman’s chance of getting ovarian cancer and how well she responds to treatment, but exactly how they do it is not well known.

With a new grant from Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) given to the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, researchers may soon have clues to understanding exactly how these genetic factors work.

The three-year grant of $900,000 will assist Simon Gayther, professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and his co-investigators to further their study.

Working as part of a large international team, Gayther and co-investigators Ellen Goode of the Mayo Clinic and Alvaro Monteiro of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center have helped to identify and characterize multiple genetic factors that affect a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer and survival prognosis after diagnosis. The team hopes to understand how these genetic markers function and to find more markers that affect risk and survival for ovarian cancer. The overall goal is to reduce mortality from this deadly cancer.

“The aim of my research laboratory is to combine susceptibility genetics in ovarian cancer with molecular profiling studies in ovarian tumor tissue banks and functional modeling of ovarian cancers and normal ovarian tissues to identify clinically relevant markers of the disease,” Gayther said. “This grant will help us tremendously to further our research into learning more about making treatments for ovarian cancer more effective.”

The OCRF is the largest charity organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research. The fund has awarded nearly $6 million in scientific research grants for ovarian cancer this year and has invested more than $50 million in ovarian cancer research overall.

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