Oliver Dorigo, MD, PhD

by Dan Gordon

Dr. Dorigo

After completing his UCLA OBGYN training, Oliver Dorigo, MD, PhD, spent eight years as a member of the department’s faculty prior to accepting his current position in 2013 as director of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University. Over the last decade, he established the Mary Lake Polan Gynecologic Cancer Research Laboratory, and led a host of gynecologic cancer clinical trials, while building a busy clinical program in gynecologic oncology.

Dr. Dorigo’s research interest is in the use of immunotherapy — specifically the development of vaccines and cell therapy for ovarian cancer. He is currently leading an international clinical trial that investigates the efficacy of a novel vaccine that has shown promising efficacy in patients with recurrent ovarian cancer. He is also part of a group that has taken a Stanford discovery from the bench to the bedside, culminating in an active cell therapy trial. The first-time-in-human cell therapy investigates the ability of an oncolytic virus delivered by cytokine-induced killer cells to recognize and destroy tumor cells in patients with ovarian and other cancers. Dr. Dorigo’s efforts are supported by the Stanford Cancer Institute and the Stanford Center for Cancer Cell Therapy.

“The progress we have seen over the last 20 years in our treatment of gynecologic cancers makes me hopeful,” Dr. Dorigo says. “We now have immunotherapy that benefits patients with endometrial and cervical cancer, and we are beginning to see clinical benefits in ovarian cancer. This research is challenging and takes time, but it’s all worth it since it ultimately improves the lives of our patients and their families.”

Dr. Dorigo completed his UCLA OB/GYN residency, followed by a combined fellowship in gynecologic oncology (UCLA/Cedars-Sinai/Kaiser Permanente Sunset/and Olive View-UCLA Medical Center). He also earned his PhD through the UCLA Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program, spending four years in the laboratory of Dr. Arnold Berk of UCLA’s Molecular Biology Institute, where he was part of a group that cloned a viral system that delivered genes to cells for the purpose of genetic modification.

“UCLA offers the best training in gynecologic cancer surgeries, as well as a research environment that in many ways is unparalleled,” Dr. Dorigo says. “My experience at UCLA set me up for everything I’ve done since then. It’s challenging to do both patient care and research, but we need people trained in both areas who can bridge the gap between scientists and clinicians. That’s my space, and I feel extremely comfortable there thanks to the educational opportunities I had at UCLA.”