2004 Program Project Development Grant Recipient – Carol Aghajanian, MD

Carol Aghajanian, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Novel Approaches to Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Project Summary

The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center program in ovarian cancer plans to improve knowledge about ovarian cancer biology and translate the findings into better molecular therapeutics for women with the disease. The program is divided into four projects. The first, directed by Dr. David Spriggs, is a drug discovery program that will study changes in the production of messenger RNAs–chemicals in the cell responsible for the production of protein– that are relevant to ovarian cancer. The second, directed by Dr. Malcolm Moore, will evaluate inhibitors of the enzyme telomerase and their effect on ovarian cancer. Telomerases are a key part of the cellular machinery that allows for growth and division. Project three, under Drs. Rosen and Solit will explore signal transduction, or the chemical pathways inside cells, in ovarian cancer. The complexity of signaling networks, which have redundancies, makes it unlikely that one pathway inhibitor will be successful in ovarian cancer. This project will be vital to the development of a rational combination of agents to be used clinical trials. The fourth, under Dr. Darnell, will investigate tumor immunity in ovarian cancer by studying a naturally occurring ovarian cancer immunity called a paraneoplastic syndrome. Specific antigens found in this project could become potential treatments. The culmination of the projects will be to bring new treatments and treatment combinations into the clinic.

Bio

Dr. Carol Aghajanian is a medical oncologist who focuses exclusively on the medical treatment of gynecologic cancers. She also leads MSKCC’s research program in chemotherapy for patients newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have a particular expertise in the management of both advanced gestational trophoblastic disease (GTD) and germ cell tumors of the ovary.

In addition, she is the co-principal investigator for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s participation in the Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) and serves on the Phase I committee and the Medical Oncology Committee for the GOG.

Dr. Aghajanian’s recent honors include a career development award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Boyer Award for outstanding young investigators at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.