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Funding Research and Awareness for Ovarian Cancer

KOH Grant Awards

Kaleidoscope of Hope Ovarian Cancer Foundation raises money each year with walkathons, golf outings, and other events to raise funds for ovarian cancer research.

Thank you to all the researchers who applied for one of our 2018 grants.

Grants Awarded - 2018

Young Investigator Awards

Jocelyn Reader, Ph.D.

University of Maryland
Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center
University of Maryland School of Medicine,

Division of Gynecologic Oncology

Targeting the PGE2 EP4 Receptor as a Mechanism for
Improved Chemotherapeutic Response
in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

I have been involved in cancer research since 2006 starting with my doctoral dissertation project studying the role of a newly discovered fusion gene, NUP98-PHF23, in leukemia to most recently as a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center investigating the role of a novel metastasis suppressor in breast cancer metastasis.

In my current position as a research associate in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences as part of the division of Gynecologic Oncology, I will expand upon my interests in women’s health and cancer biology by working to elucidate novel drug combinations for the treatment of ovarian and other gynecological cancers. I will also continue to explore biological factors that play a role in cancer disparities.

I am also an advocate for science education and mentoring through my roles as an adjunct undergraduate professor, mentor and advocate to increase retention and success of underrepresented minorities and women in the STEM field.

Mortality from ovarian cancer is often due to late stage/ recurrent disease that is resistant to treatment. Our goal is find improved treatments for ovarian cancer by combining different types of therapies. We propose to combine an anti-inflammatory agent with chemotherapy and use cell lines and mouse models in order to identify the most effective combinations with least amount of toxic side effects. This project will lead to the discovery of new types of combination therapy with the goal to improve current ovarian cancer treatments.


Yasuto Kinose, M.D., Ph.D

The Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center,
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine


Targeting Ovarian Clear Cell Carcinoma
with Genomics and Better Models


I am a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology (OBGYN) at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) Perelman School of Medicine. I am a trained gynecologic oncologist. In 2006, I earned my medical degree from Osaka University in Japan and finished internship thereafter. I completed my OBGYN residency at Hyogo Prefectural Nishinomiya Hospital and Hyogo Cancer Center. During my residency, I saw many cases of treatment refractory cancers and strongly wanted to understand the underlying cause of this chemoresistance. To learn more about cancer biology, I enrolled in the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine in 2011. Under the mentorship of Professor Tadashi Kimura and Associate Professor Kenjiro Sawada, I obtained a solid foundation in molecular biology and drug discovery. My clinical training and research experience have provided me with a valuable background in molecular biology of ovarian cancer as well as strong enthusiasm for translational research in gynecologic malignancies. With the goal of developing novel therapies for ovarian cancer through translational biomedical research, I embarked on my current postdoctoral position in Dr. Ronny Drapkin’s laboratory at UPenn since November, 2016. Dr. Drapkin serves as a Director of the Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center (OCRC). The goal of the OCRC is to translate important biological principles discovered in the laboratory into clinically useful diagnostic and therapeutic tools.

My proposal aims are to develop tractable cell line and xenograft models of ovarian clear cell carcinoma (CCC) and to decipher the molecular evolution of this disease. There are many types of ovarian cancer. While high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC) is the most common type, CCC of the ovary is notoriously the most clinically challenging. Efforts to understand CCC and develop new therapeutic approaches to this subtype have been limited because it represents a minority of ovarian cancer cases in the United States and Europe. In contrast, CCC is more prevalent in Asians (for example, 25-30% of all ovarian cancers in Japan). To improve the survival of patients with CCC, a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of CCC tumorigenesis as well as efforts to develop novel treatment strategies in the setting of both front-line therapy and salvage treatment for recurrent, advanced disease are needed. To achieve these goals we will pursue two complementary strategies. Aim 1 will characterize a panel of CCC cell lines with whole genome, methylome, and proteomic approaches. More importantly, this aim will address whether any bona fide CCC line is able to form tumors in animals as a prerequisite for future in vivo drug discovery studies. Aim 2 is designed to define the molecular evolution of CCC with the goal of identifying early alterations that may serve as novel therapeutic targets or candidate biomarkers of response or targeted treatment.



Grants Awarded - May 2017

Young Investigator Award:

Kalpana Dorayappan, PhD

The Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center
Exosome Acute phase Proteins (APPs) as Potential biomarkers for early detection of ovarian cancer

Because life is a very short journey between two destinations birth and death, I wish to make mine a meaningful one.  Being the first college graduate in my family, I am proud of my strong academic record. I am a gold medalist in my undergraduate degree and passed with distinction in my graduate degree. I completed my PhD in Biochemistry at the Institute of Bio-medical Sciences, University of Madras after which I volunteered as a researcher in Anna University until I got the current opportunity. My thesis was highly commended by the examiners and I was supported by the teaching cum research fellowship (TRF) and University Grants Commission research fellowship in Sciences for meritorious students (UGC-RFSMS) to do my doctoral degree. My PhD work focused on the chemoprevention of experimental lung carcinogenesis in female mice by sulforaphane (phytochemical). The results of my study led to five first author publications in peer reviewed journals along with other co-authored research articles. On top of my education and authorships, I take great pride in being an active member of the scientific community. I am a life member of Indian Association of Biomedical Scientists (IABMS) and Society of Biological Chemists (SBC), India and a current member of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR). Since December 2014, I have worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. My cross-training in areas of biochemistry and molecular biology coupled with my clinical understanding of ovarian cancer placed me in a small but efficient group of researchers. My close and ongoing relationships with Dr. Selvendiran Karuppaiyah, PhD and Dr. David E. Cohn, MD at The Ohio State University has helped me better understand the clinical impact of ovarian cancer which in turn has motivated me to focus upon discovering innovative ways to identify novel exosome proteins for early detection in ovarian cancer.  Last year my exosome research work was selected for highlight section (oral/poster presentation) in Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO-2016 March) annual meeting.  My research interests include i) To identify the exosome based protein bio-markers in ovarian cancer for early detection of the disease; ii) To investigate the exosome mediated oncogenic protein transfer in promoting ovarian cancer metastasis and chemo resistance in hypoxic conditions and iii) To target these signaling mechanisms by small molecule inhibitors to control the spread of the disease and improve the clinical outcomes of patients.

General Grants:

Fiona Simpkins, MD

Ovarian Cancer Research Center
University of Pennsylvania
Exploiting DNA damage in Cyclin E high ovarian cancers

Dr. Simpkins is a physician-scientist in the Division of Gynecology Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Simpkins completed her OB-GYN residency at Johns Hopkins University and Gyn Oncology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. She completed a Cancer Research Training fellowship at the National Cancer Institute.  Dr. Simpkins’ research laboratory focuses on identifying novel targets and strategies to overcome drug resistance in ovarian cancer. Her laboratory has developed novel experimental models such as primary tumor cell cultures and over 50 patient-derived xenografts from ovarian tumors which have been characterized genomically and proteomically. This platform is used to understand mechanisms of drug resistance in tissue culture and test new targeted therapies. For her proposed study, she will test a novel therapeutic strategy that exploits the genomic instability of Cyclin E overexpressing ovarian cancers. Ultimately, Dr. Simpkins’ goal is to bring therapies with strong preclinical evidence learned in her laboratory to the clinic via phase I clinical trials.

Lin Zhang, MD

Ovarian Cancer Research Center,
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine
Circulating long-noncoding RNA as an early detection biomarker for high-grade serous ovarian cancer

Lin Zhang, MD, is a Harry Fields Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center and Center for Research on Reproduction and Women’s Health. Dr. Zhang’s area of focus is the basic and translational research on cancer genetics and genomics, including non-coding sequences and epigenetic regulation in ovarian and breast cancers. His current research is directed towards understanding how recurrent genomic alterations contribute to tumorigenesis with a focus on women’s cancers. A graduate of China Medical University School of Medicine, he served as an Assistant-Lecture at the Health Science Center of the Peking University from 1996 to 2000, then completed a three year fellowship in Abramson Family Cancer Institute and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Penn.


Grants Awarded - May 2016

Alexandra Snyder, MD

Gynecologic Medical Oncology and Immunotherapeutics Service
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center


Dr. Snyder is a translational physician scientist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) who specializes in the study of tumor genetics and response to checkpoint blockade immunotherapy in solid tumors, with a particular focus on ovarian cancer.

The Genomic and Immune Landscape Following Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy in Ovarian Cancer

Immunotherapy with T-cell checkpoint inhibition can improve long-term disease control for patients with diverse malignancies including ovarian cancer. By increasing the mutational burden and activating the immune system, chemotherapy may increase responsiveness to immune therapies in ovarian cancers as well as other types of solid tumors. Using a variety of sequencing and immunologic techniques, we will evaluate genomic and inflammatory changes that occur after administration of cytotoxic chemotherapy. We hypothesize that neoadjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy will lead to a more “inflamed” tumor phenotype with increased mutational burden, neoantigen expression, and immune infiltration in patients with ovarian cancer. This study will help us to understand the immunologic effects of cytotoxic chemotherapy, which may prime the tumor microenvironment for further immunotherapy. This study may inspire clinical trials of combination or sequential therapies for ovarian cancer which manipulate the tumor mutational and immune landscapes into more immunogenic phenotypes, thus overcoming the current limitations to immunotherapy.



Monell Chemical Senses Center

2016 Grant Recipient
for Continued Funding


A Novel Multidisciplinary Approach to Development of
an Effective Ovarian Cancer Screening Diagnostic using Volatile Biomarkers

Recent literature suggests that volatile organic compounds (VOC) or odorants are altered in the earliest stages of cancer even before the cancer can be detected with currently available imaging devices. These odorants remain a relatively untapped source for cancer detection information. Research has shown that minute quantities of odorants can be detected using trained detection dogs and electronic devices, as well as identified using analytical analyses providing a sensitive target for early cancer detection. We propose a new method of screening for ovarian cancer using analysis of odorants which has great potential in decreasing future cancer deaths.

We hypothesize that the odorants emanating from ovarian tissue will change with the onset of cancer-related metabolism and will provide a reliable, detectable substrate for early detection, allowing more effective treatment. Our hypothesis is further supported by recent studies that suggest that canine olfaction can (a) distinguish normal ovarian epithelial tissue from ovarian epithelial carcinoma (b) distinguish blood samples from healthy women from those women with ovarian cancer and (c) demonstrate that ovarian epithelial carcinoma has a different, distinguishable odor profile from other cancers of the reproductive tract.

Early successes have also been achieved using electronic sensors (artificial noses) to distinguish the volatile organic compounds in cancer patients from controls. To detect this distinctive odorant signature, the proposed collaborative research will employ a multimodal approach including canine olfaction, as well as other analytical tools. Pilot research will evaluate and compare the ability of canine and other sensors to detect the total odorant signatures of serum samples in ovarian cancer versus controls. We also aim to identify the odorants that distinguish disease from healthy samples.

We hypothesize that the study of disease-detecting olfaction in dogs can facilitate the development of nanotechnology-based olfactory sensors (e-noses). Data from our proposed study will allow us to begin the translation of these findings to the development of a device that can reliably detect ovarian cancer at an early, treatable stage in the doctor’s office.

Dr. Cynthia Otto

Executive Director, Penn Vet Working Dog Center

University of Pennsylvania
School of Veterinary Medicine

2016 Grant Recipient
for Continued Funding


Ffoster, dog sponsored by KOH for research in detecting ovarian cancer in blood



2015 KOH Grants Awarded

Gynecologic Medical Oncology Service
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Deciphering the Biologic Predictors of Response to Targeted Therapy in Low Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer


Low-grade serous (LGS) ovarian cancer is a rare type of ovarian cancer that is profoundly resistant to standard chemotherapy options. Patients with LGS ovarian cancer typically present at a young age, have a protracted clinical course, and frequently display mutations in the MAP Kinase pathway, a pathway that can lead to cancer cell growth. Studies have shown promising results for the use of targeted therapies that inhibit the MAP Kinase pathway for treatment of LGS ovarian cancer. LGS ovarian cancer has also been shown to display a high level of expression of the estrogen, progesterone, and/or androgen receptors; however whether these correlate with response to hormonal therapy remains unclear. The current project aims to determine biologic markers that predict for response to targeted therapy with either MEK inhibitors (a class of drugs that inhibit the MAPK pathway) or hormonal therapies.
Firstly archived tumor and blood from patients with LGS ovarian cancer who were treated with MEK inhibitors will be evaluated utilizing a specialized sequencing approach to determine what molecular alterations predict for response to treatment with MEK inhibition. 
Secondly, immunohistochemistry will be utilized to determine the level of estrogen, progesterone, and androgen receptor positivity in the archived tumor samples from patients with LGS ovarian cancer who were treated with hormonal therapies and receptor positivity correlated with response. The overarching goal of these efforts is to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from treatment with targeted therapies, allowing for a personalized approach to treatment of this chemotherapy-resistant disease.


Pilot Study of a Novel PARP Inhibitor PET Tracer in Ovarian Carcinoma

Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania

Ovarian cancer represents the most common cause of death from gynecologic cancer. The majority of women  (>70%) are diagnosed with advanced stage (stage III/IV) and despite standard treatment, the majority of  patients recur and die from their disease. Targeted agents such as poly ADP ribsose polymerase (PARP)  inhibitors are actively being tested alone or in combination with chemotherapy or radiotherapy, however, we  know that not all patients will benefit from these therapies. Ideally, incorporation of such targeted drugs into  therapy for ovarian cancer would be reserved for patients who are most likely to benefit, however, current  technologies are unavailable to identify a priori which patients may benefit. Given these considerations and  others, it becomes apparent that the clinical management of ovarian cancer would be greatly aided by  biomarkers that can predict at the time of relapse, whether a patient has cancer that is either resistant or  sensitive to the targeted agent. The goal of this project is to test whether a novel PARP inhibitor Positron  Emission Tomography (PET) tracer can co-localize to areas of known ovarian cancer and will correlate with  PARP1 activity in tumor biopsies of patients as well as in an in vivo rodent model of ovarian carcinoma.  Developing a non-invasive method to image ovarian cancer patients and identify those who have elevated  PARP activity is the first step in helping us validate this novel PARP PET tracer as a predictive biomarker and  would thereby allow us to better select patients that may benefit from PARP inhibitor therapies  



Monell Chemical Senses Center

2015 Grant Recipient for Continued Funding:  A Novel Multidisciplinary Approach to Development of an Effective Ovarian Cancer Screening Diagnostic using Volatile Biomarkers.

My laboratory is perhaps the only one in the United States performing basic research into the nature, biogenesis and function of human body odors. We apply organic-analytical chemistry techniques to human subjects, in vivo. In addition to performing collaborative research in the chemical senses. I have a career-long interest in the chemistry of human body odors and how human diseases produce and may be recognized from the odorants they produce. I have more than forty years of experience in the operation, maintenance and interpretation of data from mass spectrometers, beginning with my graduate training in the laboratory of Professor Klaus Biemann, at MIT. Therefore, we focus upon a mass spectrometry-enabled approach into the nature and origin of human odors, particularly those from the skin, underarm (axillae) and the oral cavity. We have also done extensive collaborative research with Monell’s sensory scientists to examine the sensory qualities of human odorants, their olfactory thresholds and how to block their perception.
Because of our fundamental studies into human odor production, our laboratory is the focal point for referrals of individuals with long-standing malodor production of unknown origin. Our analytical and sensory techniques, applied to these patients, have revealed a large, undiagnosed population of people with trimethylaminuria. We have also developed methods for symptom amelioration in these patients. Consequently, working with and sampling human subjects is a routine activity in the Preti lab.
Our lab is also pursuing the structures of the active pheromone constituents via a bioassay-guided isolation procedure as well as employing gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to generate metabolic profiles (“metabolomics”) of human blood, skin, cerumen and axillary secretions to identify biomarkers of disease (skin and ovarian cancer), individual identity (human odorprints) and stress-related odors.


Dr. Cynthia Otto

University of Pennsylvania,
School of Veterinary Medicine

2015 Grant Recipient for Continued Funding:  
Ffoster, dog sponsored by KOH for research in sniffing out ovarian cancer