2008 Ann Schreiber Grant Recipient – Weiwei Shan

Weiwei Shan, PhD
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Cellular Microenvironment Role in Ovarian Cancer Development

Project Summary

The ovary is composed of an epithelium on its surface and a stroma-the inner mass consisting of several cell types. Interactions between these two compartments are crucial in epithelial ovarian cancer development. As humans age, both the epithelium and the stroma undergo a process termed cellular aging or senescence, defined by the inability of cells to continue dividing under certain circumstances. Senescence is a permanent state of the cell unless experimentally manipulated. Dr. Shan studies the molecules involved in causing stromal cells to become senescent and their role in making ovarian epithelial cells cancerous. She is focusing on two proteins, VEGF and TSP-1, released by stromal cells as possible promoters of tumor formation in epithelial cells. The findings should provide insights into the understanding of epithelial ovarian tumorigenesis and could lead to the identification of novel drugs to stop the process.

Bio

Dr. Shan graduated from Fudan University, one of the top five universities in China. She received comprehensive biological training during her graduate study, ranging from performing animal studies to cellular and molecular experiments. Her research project was to elucidate mechanisms of chemically-induced liver cancer. While Dr. Shan did exceptionally well in her graduate studies, she has decided to refocus her career on ovarian cancer, since one of her close family members recently succumbed to clear cell carcinoma of the ovary only three months after initial diagnosis. Dr. Shan is conducting research on the mechanisms underlying senescent stromal fibroblast-mediated promotion of ovarian tumorigenesis, which is a natural continuation of our previous work. She is also involved in identifying novel markers for early detection as well as therapeutic interventions of ovarian cancer. Equipped with highly advanced intellectual and experimental techniques and a strong faith for the cancer research society, Dr. Shan looks forward to making significant contributions this field and becoming a leader in ovarian cancer study in the near further.