2012 Liz Tilberis Grant Recipient – Daniela Dinulescu, PhD

Daniela Dinulescu, PhD
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Modeling Serous Ovarian Carcinoma Using Genetic Markers Specific for the Distal Fallopian Tube
Project Summary
It is critical to determine if the fallopian tubal secretory epithelial cell (FTSEC) is the cell-of-origin for the majority of high-grade serous ovarian and peritoneal carcinomas. Little experimental evidence exists to support this novel paradigm shift. We propose to develop experimental models to demonstrate that FTSEC is indeed the cell of origin for high-grade serous carcinomas. Furthermore, we plan to examine in vivo the key events responsible for the initiation and propagation of precursor tubal lesions to invasive ovarian and peritoneal serous carcinomas. Our animal models, which accurately recapitulate the human disease, constitute great tools for defining the key roles that tumor cells in the distal fallopian tube play in tumor initiation and resistance to chemotherapy. Furthermore, they provide us with unique, relevant in vivo systems in which to screen novel molecularly targeted therapies as they become available. Data collected from these key animal models will be instrumental for the development of new methods for cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment. We remain hopeful that our research will have immediate clinical applications.
Bio

Dr. Dinulescu is currently an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. She received her Ph.D. From Oregon Health and Science University and completed her postdoctoral studies in the field of Cancer Genetics in Dr. Tyler Jacks’ laboratory at MIT. Dr. Dinulescu’s research interests focus on cancer biology, malignancies of the gonads and reproductive tract, with a special emphasis on ovarian cancer research and endometriosis. During her postdoctoral fellowship Dr. Dinulescu developed and validated the first genetic animal models for endometrioid ovarian cancer and endometriosis that accurately recapitulate the human disease. This was regarded as an important achievement in the cancer field since mouse models of ovarian cancer, which mimic the human disease, have been extremely difficult to develop. In addition, her studies helped uncover a first genetic link between endometriosis and endometrioid ovarian cancer, which helps explain their frequent association in women, a finding that was further validated by recent clinical studies.

Visit the Dinulescu Lab website for more information.

This grant was made possible by a generous donation from Ovarian Cycle.