Society for Gynecologic Oncologists Honors Moffitt Cancer Center Physician

March 31, 2009

Tampa, FL — Dr. Johnathan M. Lancaster, director for The Center of Women’s Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center, is being honored with the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists’ Basic Science Award.

We are delighted and honored to be selected for this award. Chemo-resistance is a major impediment to improved survival for patients with ovarian cancer,” Lancaster said. “We hope that our work not only enhances understanding of the biology of drug resistance but also leads to the development of new therapies for this deadly disease.”

Building resistance to chemotherapy is a major impediment to long-term survival for patients with ovarian cancer. Recent research at Moffitt sheds important light on the biology that results in a cell resisting therapy. Using a pathway analysis strategy, Lancaster and his team were able to identify how each of the identified genes relate to one another and which biologic pathways make cells resistant to therapy.

“This is a sort of ‘Facebook’ for genes,” said Lancaster, who directed the research. “We were able to make sense out of lists of hundreds of genes that we found to have altered activity as cells develop chemo-resistance.”

Lancaster’s team was intrigued to identify one particular pathway (BAD-apoptosis) that appeared to play a pivotal role in chemo-resistance. Researchers were able to demonstrate how the level of phosphorylation of the BAD protein causes cells to resist chemotherapy, and were also able to change chemo-resistance of ovarian cancer cells by manipulating the phosphorylation status of the BAD protein.  

“We believe we have identified a critical piece of the biologic puzzle that drives cells to become resistant to treatment. Moreover, we have demonstrated that this pathway has significant potential as a therapeutic target,” Lancaster said. “We are grateful to the SGO for recognizing our work and also for their ongoing efforts to encourage and support scientific discovery focused on gynecologic cancers.”

About H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute

Located in Tampa, Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center  is the only Florida-based cancer center with the NCI designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center for its excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 15 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia and two in Puerto Rico. Additionally, Moffitt is a member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, a prestigious alliance of the country’s leading cancer centers, and is listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” for cancer. Moffitt’s sole mission is to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

About the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists

The mission of SGO is to promote and ensure the highest quality of comprehensive clinical care through excellence in education and research in gynecologic cancers.