Roswell Park Awarded $2.8 Million Grant to Study Ovarian Cancer

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

BUFFALO, NY – The National Cancer Institute has awarded a five-year, $2.8 million Research Project (RO1) grant to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers to investigate the role of immunological pathways in the development of ovarian cancer.

Roswell Park investigators are Kirsten Moysich, PhD, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences; Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD, Department of Gynecologic Oncology; and Lara Sucheston, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biostatistics, University at Buffalo.

“The coveted RO1 grants support individual scientists whose grant applications, after stringent peer review, have demonstrated outstanding science,” said Candace Johnson, PhD, Deputy Director and the Wallace Family Chair in Translational Research, Roswell Park. “Roswell Park donations were critical in helping us initiate this research to generate novel preliminary data needed for our successful submission.”

While the causes of ovarian cancer remain largely unknown, scientific studies have consistently linked high regulatory T-cell levels to cancer. Unlike so-called effector T cells that attack foreign substances in the body, regulatory T cells actually suppress an immune reaction. Roswell Park scientists will, for the first time, conduct a comprehensive investigation of the role of regulatory T cells in ovarian cancer development and prognosis.

Using a population-based case control study, Roswell Park scientists will compare regulatory T-cell levels in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer with those of healthy women. The research will help determine if women with ovarian cancer have higher blood regulatory T-cell levels than healthy women and if ovarian cancer patients with genetically determined high regulatory T-cell profiles have poorer clinical outcomes.

“These data will be useful in the development of novel treatment options for ovarian cancer. Manipulation of regulatory T cells may afford a novel method to stimulate an immune response to this deadly disease. Additionally, physicians may find information concerning regulatory T-cell levels a useful tool as they evaluate the best treatments for their patients,” said Dr. Moysich.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecological malignancies and the second most common gynecological cancer in the US. In 2009, an estimated 21,550 women will be diagnosed and 14,600 women will die from ovarian cancer.

The mission of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. Roswell Park, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit Roswell Park’s website at, call 1-800-ROSWELL (1-800-767-9355) or email


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Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager