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Ovarian cancer research scope

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest form of all reproductive cancers in women. With treatment strategies stagnant, impacted women face less than a 50% chance of survival. Our ovarian cancer research team led by Karen Cowden Dahl, PhD, investigates the metastatic spread the disease, exploiting weaknesses in cancer cells to improve therapy and change women’s lives.  

Inside its research laboratory, the team uses cancer cells to generate mini tumors known as organoids. Grown inside 3D domes, these organoids allow our researchers to test novel treatments that could change how we treat ovarian cancer here and around the world.

Ovarian cancer researcher in research lab.

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    patients enrolled in studies to investigate gynecological cancers

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Ovarian cancer researchers

Karen Cowden Dahl ovarian cancer researcher at lab computer.
Head of Ovarian Cancer research

Karen Cowden Dahl, PhD

(608) 775-3606

Email Dr. Cowden Dahl
Cleo Haugen ovarian cancer research technician smiling in lab.
Research technician

Cleo Haugen

 (608) 775-3440

Email Cleo


Gemcitabine combination therapies induce apoptosis in uterine carcinosarcoma patient-derived organoids
Published on: 2024-03-28

Uterine carcinosarcoma (UCS) is a rare but aggressive endometrial cancer. Survival outcomes for women diagnosed with UCS remain poor with lower survival than those of endometrioid or high-grade serous uterine cancers. The histopathological hallmark of carcinosarcoma is the presence of both sarcomatous and carcinomatous elements. The survival rates for UCS have not improved for over 40 years; therefore, there is a profound need to identify new treatments. To investigate novel chemotherapy...

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MAPK Signaling Is Required for Generation of Tunneling Nanotube-Like Structures in Ovarian Cancer Cells
Published on: 2021-01-16

Ovarian cancer (OC) cells survive in the peritoneal cavity in a complex microenvironment composed of diverse cell types. The interaction between tumor cells and non-malignant cells is crucial to the success of the metastatic process. Macrophages activate pro-metastatic signaling pathways in ovarian cancer cells (OCCs), induce tumor angiogenesis, and orchestrate a tumor suppressive immune response by releasing anti-inflammatory cytokines. Understanding the interaction between immune cells and...

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The miR-23a∼27a∼24-2 microRNA Cluster Promotes Inflammatory Polarization of Macrophages
Published on: 2020-12-17

Macrophages are critical for regulating inflammatory responses. Environmental signals polarize macrophages to either a proinflammatory (M1) state or an anti-inflammatory (M2) state. We observed that the microRNA (miRNA) cluster mirn23a, coding for miRs-23a, -27a, and -24-2, regulates mouse macrophage polarization. Gene expression analysis of mirn23a-deficient myeloid progenitors revealed a decrease in TLR and IFN signaling. Mirn23a ^(-/-) bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) have an...

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ARID3A and ARID3B induce stem promoting pathways in ovarian cancer cells
Published on: 2020-02-17

ARID3A and ARID3B are paralogs from the AT-Rich interactive Domain (ARID) family. ARID3A and ARID3B associate to regulate genes in B-cells and cancer. We were the first to demonstrate that ARID3B regulates stem cell genes and promotes the cancer stem cell phenotype. Importantly, different knockout phenotypes in mice and distinct patterns of expression in adult animals suggests that ARID3A and ARID3B may have unique functions. In addition, high levels of ARID3B but not ARID3A induce cell death....

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Can Stemness and Chemoresistance Be Therapeutically Targeted via Signaling Pathways in Ovarian Cancer?
Published on: 2018-07-26

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecological malignancy. Poor overall survival, particularly for patients with high grade serous (HGS) ovarian cancer, is often attributed to late stage at diagnosis and relapse following chemotherapy. HGS ovarian cancer is a heterogenous disease in that few genes are consistently mutated between patients. Additionally, HGS ovarian cancer is characterized by high genomic instability. For these reasons, personalized approaches may be necessary for effective...

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