Ovarian Cancer

The collaborative team of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) in Buffalo, NY has received the National Cancer Institute’s Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) for Ovarian Cancer. Together, we aim to reduce the morbidity and mortality of ovarian cancer through innovative translational research, and are studying new immunotherapy approaches for treatment of and risk assessment for ovarian cancer. Our mission is to develop methods to prevent, treat and even cure ovarian cancer with promising new immunotherapies.

With Roswell Park as the lead institution, this SPORE grant consists of four individual research projects (including three clinical trials), four cores, and research and career development programs. The four research projects include:

  • Project 1 (Odunsi/Shrikant): Inhibition of Indole-amine 2, 3 Dioxygenase to Enhance Ovarian Tumor Immunity
  • Project 2 (Odunsi/Yee/Shrikant): Rapamycin and IL-21 Conditioned CD8+ T cells for Adoptive Cellular Therapy of Ovarian Cancer
  • Project 3 (Edwards/Kalinski): MHC-Restricted and MHC-Non-Restricted Targeting of Ovarian Cancer by Alpha DC1-induced CTLs
  • Project 4 (Moysich/Lele/Modugno): Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells in Ovarian Carcinogenesis

Four cores within the SPORE support these projects:


The Administration Core provides organizational support for all projects and cores and implements strategies to ensure compliance with all regulatory bodies as well as patient confidentiality and data integrity.

Co-Leaders: Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD; Kirsten Moysich, PhD; Robert P. Edwards, MD;
Hillman Associate-Leader: Francesmary Modugno, PhD, MPH


The Biospecimen Core will develop a high quality biospecimen bank, and provide other services to Ovarian Cancer SPORE investigators that include tissue microarrays, laser capture microdissection, general research histology services, immunohistochemistry, digital imaging, and pathology review of slides and images.

Co-Leaders: Carl Morrison, DVM, MD; Esther Elishaev, MD; Francesmary Modugno, PhD, MPH

Biostatistics and Medical Informatics

The Biostatistics and Medical Informatics Core ensures that appropriate data required to answer a study question are collected, and the data meets requirements for administrative reporting, protocol compliance, and regulatory standards for privacy. This Core also develops and implements new and novel statistical and bioinformatics methodology as needed to address all study objectives.

Co-Leaders: Alan Hutson, PhD; Carmelo Gaudioso, MD, PhD

Immune Monitoring

The Immune Monitoring Core is responsible for establishing standardized assays of cellular and humoral immune responses in support of the projects.

Co-Leaders: Paul Wallace, PhD; Lisa H. Butterfield, PhD

In addition, a Developmental Research Program and a Career Enhancement Program provide a framework to recruit and mentor young investigators to develop careers in translational ovarian cancer research, and to fertilize testing of high risk, potentially paradigm changing projects with translational potential.

In summary, this Ovarian Cancer SPORE brings together basic and applied investigators to conduct innovative and diverse translational investigations aimed at risk stratification, treatment of primary and recurrent ovarian cancer, and prevention of relapse in patients in remission. The projects listed above have been carefully designed to have significant potential to change clinical practice paradigms in ovarian cancer within five years.