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Specialized Ovarian Cancer Research Drs. Shih and Wang look at images on computer screen generated by microscope. advance to content
Johns Hopkins Medicine, in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, has been awarded the prestigious Specialized Programs of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant by the National Cancer Institute for furthering translational ovarian cancer research. This grant will offer new opportunities for ovarian cancer patients seeking innovative clinical trials and new diagnostic tools for early detection of ovarian cancer in women at increased risk.

Research Objectives

The primary goal of our partnership is to translate our recent laboratory research discoveries into improvements in ovarian cancer detection and treatment.

Ovarian cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers in women in the United States. It’s often detected in its advanced stage, making it difficult to treat and a major cause of cancer morbidity and mortality. Our team will evaluate innovative approaches for early detection through the development of more effective screening tools and investigate new therapies that will minimize chemotherapy resistance and reduce recurrence for treatment. Clinical trials will support this research, and we are currently accepting eligible applicants.

This SPORE is led by Dr. Ie-Ming Shih, the Richard W. TeLinde Distinguished Professor in the Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics at Johns Hopkins Medicine. 

Research Program Structure

This translational program is composed of four hypothesis-driven research projects, three core resources, the Career Enhancement Program and the Developmental Research Program. Below we provide a synopsis of our program goals and structure. For more detailed information on this collaborative research program between Johns Hopkins University and University of Pennsylvania, please visit our research overview page

Current Projects

  • The objective of Project 1 is to evaluate the effectiveness of various methods to detect early and low-volume ovarian high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC), the most common and aggressive type of ovarian cancer. Specifically, we will evaluate sample collection methods including the PapGene test (collection of cervical fluid specimens taken during Pap smears), the circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) liquid biopsy blood test and endometrial cavity brushing. To read the full research abstract and leadership information for Project 1, please visit our Project 1 page.

  • The goal of Project 2 is to investigate a more effective combined therapy to treat advanced ovarian HGSC. Specifically, Project 2 will continue to explore the combined use of ATR inhibitors and PARP inhibitors to target and eliminate cancerous ovarian HGSC tissue. To read the full research abstract and leadership information for Project 2, please visit our Project 2 page.

    We are looking for participants for our clinical trial. Women age 18 or older with recurrent ovarian cancer are eligible. Find further information on how to participate in this clinical trial on our clinical trials page.

  • Project 4 aims to determine whether restricting spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK) activity sensitizes ovarian cancer cells to the effects of Paclitaxel, a chemotherapy drug, thus making SYK inhibitors a promising new agent for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer. To read the full research abstract and leadership information for Project 4, please visit our Project 4 page.

    This project also has a clinical trial component. Learn more on our clinical trials page.


These projects are supported by an administrative core, a biorepository/pathology core and a biostatistics core.

Career Enhancement and Developmental Programs

We have also established Career Enhancement and Developmental Research Programs to help fuel future SPORE advances.

The Career Enhancement Program provides funding and support to promising young investigators to help facilitate their early career development and build a firm foundation for their future leadership in the translational ovarian cancer research field. Secondarily, the program will also support established investigators who want to redirect their research efforts to translational ovarian cancer research.  

The Developmental Research Program provides funding for pilot studies with potential for development into large-scale translational research projects, collaborations and new methodologies that may be integrated into other existing projects. This program is a major focus of the SPORE because it encourages the flow of innovative ideas and new research efforts that may emerge within the context of SPORE research.  

Interested in submitting a project? Read our application guidelines and learn how to apply here

Research Team

Clinical Directors

Armstrong, Deborah K., M.D., Johns Hopkins Medicine
Gaillard, Stephanie Louise, M.D., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins Medicine

University of Pennsylvania Research Team

Career Enhancement Program Awardees

Ganguly, Sudipto, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
Martin, Lainie, M.D., University of Pennsylvania

Developmental Research Program Awardees

Cahan, Patrick, M.S., Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
Facciabene, Andrea, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

We also have an internal and external advisory board. View our board here.

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