MWRI Work-in-Progress Conference & Seminar Series

November 11, 2020 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Virtual (Zoom)
Dr. Mellissa Mann
Speaker: Sandra Casio, Ph.D., and Sarah Munyoki, B.A.
Title: See description.
Lecture Title: See description.

Please join us, VIRTUALLY, for our MWRI/WIP Series, Wednesday, November 11, 2020 @ 12pm


Work-in-Progress Conference & Seminar Series 

“Disruption of CA-MSC-induced desmoplasia reprograms the tumor immune microenvironment and enhances the efficacy of immunotherapy in ovarian cancer”

Sandra Casio, Ph.D.

Research Assistant, Professor

Department of OBGYN-Reproductive Sciences

Magee-Womens Research Institute, Pittsburgh, PA

Objective: My research interests are in understanding the cellular and molecular interactions between malignant cells and non-malignant cells, such as immune cells and stromal cells, within the ovarian tumor microenvironment. Our lab integrates studies in human and mouse models applying immunological, biochemical and computational approaches to uncover intra- and inter-cellular communications in ovarian cancer. We have previously shown that cancer-associated mesenchymal stem cells (CA-MSCs) generate tumor desmoplasia and promote tumor progression. In this study, we explored the impact of CA-MSCs on the tumor immune microenvironment and the mechanisms by which they induce tumor immunosuppression. Using an immune-responsive syngeneic mouse model, we also evaluated whether targeting CA-MSCs-derived desmoplasia could restore the efficacy of immune checkpoint inhibitors. Our goal is to translate our studies into the clinic to increase the efficacy of current immune therapies and improve survival of ovarian cancer patients.


“Single cell transcriptome analysis identifies putative markers of human spermatogonial stem cells”

 Sarah Munyoki, B.A

5th year Graduate Student

Integrative Systems Biology Program

Orwig Lab- Magee-Womens Research Institute

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 

Objective: Spermatogonial stem cells (SSCs) are essential for spermatogenesis and may hold promise as a therapy for male infertility. We performed single cell RNA sequencing of human and rhesus macaque testicular cells to enhance our understanding of primate SSCs and spermatogenesis. This presentation will focus on how our transcriptome data has identified genes that may be used to isolate and enrich primate SSCs and may contribute an improved understanding of primate SSC biology that will enable SSC based fertility therapies.