Released: March 31, 2011

Hopkins Researcher Awarded DoD Ovarian Cancer Consortium Award

Dr. Robert Kurman of Johns Hopkins University has been named the recipient of the FY10 Department of Defense's (DOD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) Ovarian Cancer Research Program (OCRP) Consortium Award.

Initial funding for the Consortium is $9.5 million (M), and the full award could be worth as much as $12M, depending on future appropriations. When fully implemented, the OCRP Consortium will represent a major multi-institutional collaborative research effort focused on identifying and characterizing the early changes of disease associated with ovarian cancer. Dr. Kurman, Director of Hopkins' Division of Gynecologic Pathology, was selected from among five finalists for the award.

"This is an exciting research opportunity that has the potential to significantly impact ovarian cancer incidence and mortality," said Dr. Patricia Modrow, OCRP Program Manager. "While much has been gained in the knowledge about ovarian cancer in the last decade, overall survival has not appreciably improved in the past several decades. The DOD OCRP believes that this award will help elucidate the precursors of ovarian cancer and provide a greater understanding of the early events associated with the disease."

The Consortium will focus on high-grade serous carcinoma (HGSC), the subtype that accounts for 75 percent of all ovarian cancers and 90 percent of all ovarian cancer deaths. In his proposal, Dr. Kurman noted that recent evidence indicates that the disease does not originate in the ovary. His Consortium plans to identify potential sites where HGSC originates, and confirm that most of these cancers develop not in the ovary itself, but in the fimbria, the tissue near the opening of the fallopian tubes. Confirming the origin of HGSC in the fallopian tube will allow prevention strategies to be developed, with the potential to dramatically reduce the incidence, morbidity, and mortality of ovarian cancer.

Navy Captain E. Melissa Kaime, M.D., CDMRP Director, applauds this new funding effort.

"Dr. Kurman and his colleagues proposed an outstanding study to address that the location of the precursor of ovarian cancer may be outside of the ovary. At both levels of DOD OCRP review, the proposal was seen as a unique research approach, with a solid Consortium comprised of outstanding scientists and clinicians, and a tremendous potential to understand ovarian cancer," CAPT Kaime said. "The DOD OCRP believes that the results from this study will represent a paradigm shift and translate into preventing and treating the disease in those at greatest risk for ovarian cancer."

Other institutions working with Dr. Kurman in the Consortium are Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York), Weill Cornell Medical College (New York), Yale University, National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Aging, Duke University, University of Michigan, Jackson Health System (Miami), Toronto University Health Network, and Sunny Brook Health Sciences Center (Toronto).

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