Understanding how ovarian cancer spreads

Posted on 19. Feb, 2015 by in Academic Departments, Biomedical Engineering, Healthcare and Medicine, Issues, Magazine, Research

Pam Kreeger

Pam Kreeger. Photo: Renee Meiller.

With approximately 22,000 diagnoses annually in the United States, ovarian cancer isn’t among the most commonly occurring cancers. Yet, the mortality rate for women who have ovarian cancer hovers above 60 percent.

For Pamela Kreeger (pictured), an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, that number is needlessly high. Kreeger is among a group of exceptionally forward-thinking researchers to receive a 2014 New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health. And with funding of nearly $2.3 million, she is studying why ovarian cancer cells progress from their origin in a woman’s fallopian tube through the ovaries and on to metastatic sites.

Kreeger’s research will draw on her unique background and expertise in three seemingly different areas: ovarian cancer biology, biomimetic culture development, and using systems biology models to analyze quantitative data. She is developing in vitro culture systems to mimic ovarian cancer cells’ spread through a woman’s body, and how they develop resistance to chemotherapy. “Progress in treating ovarian
cancer over the last 30 years has been flat,” says Kreeger. “One reason is that the disease is nearly universally diagnosed too late—so understanding ovarian cancer’s early stages might lead to new screens for the disease, as well as potential treatments.”

Read more about this research: go.wisc.edu/ovarian-cancer

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