USF, Moffitt awarded grant to study a killer disease

TAMPA, FL (May 13, 2011) — The Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper (H.O.W) organization announced today that they have awarded a $100,000 fellowship grant to a team of researchers at USF Health and Moffitt Cancer Center.

Doctors Mitchel Hoffman, Nadim Bou Zgheib and Johnathan Lancaster will study a genetic pathway that causes ovarian cancer cells to stop responding to chemotherapy.

“Ovarian cancer is the most deadly gynecologic cancer,” said Dr. Hoffman, USF professor, director of Gynecologic Oncology, and associate vice president for Cancer Services. “Patients lose their battle with the disease when their tumor becomes resistant to treatment.”

Dr. Mitchel Hoffman

“We are delighted to be able to fund the ground-breaking work of the USF/Moffitt gynecologic oncology team, and thank all our supporters who have made it possible. We are optimistic that this research will improve treatment for patients with ovarian cancer in the near future”, said Jennifer McGrath, Program Administrator for H.O.W.

If researchers can understand the genetic changes that cause cancers to become chemo-resistant, they may be able to develop drugs to reverse the process and prolong survival.

Dr. Lancaster, chair of the Department of Women’s Oncology at Moffitt, led the team that previously discovered that the genetic pathway (called BCL2 antagonist of cell death, or “BAD” for short) may cause chemo-resistance. Working with Doctors Hoffman and Nadim Bou Zgheib, a GYN Oncology fellow at USF and Moffitt, Dr. Lancaster’s laboratory team will study the genetic sequence of the BAD gene to understand why the pathway causes cancer cells to resist chemotherapy.

Dr. Johnathan Lancaster

“We are greatly honored to receive this award and deeply indebted to the H.O.W organization for their support,” said Dr. Lancaster. “It will not only enable us to advance ovarian cancer research to better treat patients, but also cements a long-standing clinical, educational and now research partnership between the USF and Moffitt GYN-Oncology teams.”

“The grant has enormous potential benefit to our two institutions, and also to ovarian cancer research in the state,” said Dr. Hoffman.

About USF Health
USF Health is dedicated to creating a model of health care based on understanding the full spectrum of health. It includes the University of South Florida’s colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Pharmacy, the School of Biomedical Sciences and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; and the USF Physician’s Group. Ranked 34th in federal research expenditures for public universities by the National Science Foundation, the University of South Florida is a high impact global research university dedicated to student success.

About Moffitt Cancer Center
Located in Tampa, Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center is an NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center – a designation that recognizes Moffitt’s excellence in research and contributions to clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt currently has 14 affiliates in Florida, one in Georgia, one in Pennsylvania 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 marks a very important anniversary this year – 25 years committed to one mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer.

Media Contacts:
Anne DeLotto Baier, USF Health, (813) 974-3300 or
Michelle Foley, Moffitt Cancer Center, (813) 745-1505 or