Newsletter Winter 2021
Research Update: Meet Sandra Orsulic, PhD, prominent cancer biologist whose 20 years of research has helped to shape research modeling of early ovarian cancer development
In January the UCLA Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology welcomed Dr. Sandra Orsulic to our faculty. Dr. Orsulic is a prominent cancer biologist whose work over the past 20 years has helped shape research modeling of early ovarian cancer development. After receiving her PhD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Orsulic trained in the lab of Nobel Laureate Dr. Harold Varmus, and established her own laboratory research as Assistant Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. For the last twelve years, Dr. Orsulic continued to grow her research portfolio at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Research from Dr. Orsulic’s lab focuses on the development of mouse models in which ovarian cancers are induced and studied during its early stages of growth and metastatic progression. Her laboratory has generated multiple syngeneic mouse ovarian cancer cell lines with defined genetic alterations that recapitulate the development and pathophysiological manifestations of human ovarian cancer as well as the complexity of cancer-stroma interactions. Her team is using these models to determine the functional contributions of individual molecular pathways to cell transformation, immune response to cancer progression, recruitment of cancer-associated fibroblasts, and development of therapeutic resistance. Recent published efforts by the Orsulic lab are studying mechanisms by which the microenvironment contributes to cancer initiation and progression. This information is used to identify molecular markers for early cancer detection, and to generate functional models for testing targeted therapies.
Selected publications from Dr. Orsulic’s research include:
- HOXB13 controls cell state through super-enhancers. Aspuria PJ, Cheon DJ, Gozo MC, Beach JA, Recouvreux MS, Walts AE, Karlan BY, Orsulic S. Exp Cell Res. 2020 May 3:112039. doi: 10.1016/j.yexcr.2020.112039. Online ahead of print.PMID: 32376288
- A collagen-remodeling gene signature regulated by TGF-β signaling is associated with metastasis and poor survival in serous ovarian cancer. Cheon DJ, Tong Y, Sim MS, Dering J, Berel D, Cui X, Lester J, Beach JA, Tighiouart M, Walts AE, Karlan BY, Orsulic S. Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Feb 1;20(3):711-23. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-1256. Epub 2013 Nov 11.PMID: 24218511
- A genetically defined mouse ovarian carcinoma model for the molecular characterization of pathway-targeted therapy and tumor resistance. Xing D, Orsulic S. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 May 10;102(19):6936-41. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0502256102. Epub 2005 Apr 28.PMID: 15860581