2006 Ann Schreiber Grant Recipient – Maria Barbolina

Maria Barbolina, Ph.D.
Northwestern University
Characterizing the Molecular Steps in Ovarian Cancer Metastasis

Project Summary

The focus of Dr. Barbolina’s research is to understand how ovarian cancer spreads, particularly to the peritoneal cavity. Ovarian cancer metastasis is a multi-step process that changes the way ovarian cells normally stick together, and then causes the cells to move and invade other tissue. In the current model of metastasis, cells from the primary tumor are believed to go into the peritoneal cavity as single cells or multicellular groups, called spheroids. These spheroids are resistant to some forms of chemotherapy and radiation. Dr. Barbolina, therefore, suggests these spheroids are more aggressive invading structures than isolated tumor cells. In her project, Dr. Barbolina is using a unique cell culture method to try to understand the genes that promote metastasis in single cells and spheroids. Identifying those genes could lead to the development of drugs or other ways to stop the process of metastasis.


Maria V. Barbolina is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at Chicago. She completed her postdoctoral training at Northwestern University.