2003 Individual Investigator Grant Recipient & 2006 Program Project Development Grant- Ronny I. Drapkin

Ronny I. Drapkin, M.D., Ph.D.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Ovarian Cancer Biomarkers: Identification, Validation, and Assessment of Biological Function

Project Summary

Dr. Drapkin is focused on developing methods for early screening and detection of ovarian cancer using biomarkers in blood serum. Serum biomarkers are very versatile tools. They can be used to 1) screen and detect early cancer, 2) monitor disease status and response to treatment, and, in some cases, 3) form the basis for novel drug therapies. Dr. Drapkin has found a gene, called HE4, which appears to be a specific marker for ovarian cancer: Its expression is very limited in normal tissues and it does not appear to be abundantly expressed by other types of tumors. HE4 also is secreted by ovarian cancer cells and circulates in the blood. His intention is to characterize the value of HE4 as a serum biomarker, compare it to the utility of CA-125–the only currently available ovarian cancer biomarker–and to determine if HE4 can be detected in the urine. Also, he will determine if HE4 plays any role in the development or progression of ovarian cancer by using cutting edge RNA interference (RNAi) technology. RNAi will allow him to eliminate HE4 to see whether cancer cells without HE4 lose the ability to grow and invade other tissues.


Dr. Ronny Drapkin is the Director of Gynecologic Cancer Research, Basser Research Center for BRCA, at the University of Pennsylvania.