WI Researcher Gets Grant to Study Ovarian Cancer
PHOTO: Pamela Kreeger, Ph.D., winner of a grant from the American Cancer Society to study ovarian cancer. (Courtesy of UW Engineering)
December 17, 2012
MADISON, Wis. - Ovarian cancer affects over 22,000 women in the U.S. every year, and each year more than 15,000 will die from it. The American Cancer Society has given a grant to UW-Madison biomedical engineer Dr. Pamela Kreeger to study ovarian cancer.
"One of the main problems with ovarian cancer is it's diagnosed when it's very advanced, so the tumor has already metastasized and moved to other parts of the body. One of the problems with that is these tumor cells are in this very different environment, so we need to really understand how that is changing the tumor cell behavior so that we can more effectively treat it."
The American Cancer Society supports beginning investigators, like Dr. Kreeger, who have innovative ideas early in their career.
"What my lab is interested in looking at is how the tumor cells interact with a cell type called macrophages, which are an immune cell that theoretically should be helping to clear out tumor cells or clear out infections, but somehow in tumors seem to get corrupted and actually sometimes support tumor growth."
The American Cancer Society is funding 15 research grants totaling more than $8 million at UW-Madison, Marquette University and the Medical College of Wisconsin. Kreeger's grant, which starts Jan. 1, totals $720,000 over the next four years.
This is the second time the American Cancer Society has awarded a research grant to Dr. Kreeger, who says people typically associate cancer research with biologists and clinicians, and not biomedical engineers.
"What we're really doing is bringing our engineering tools - in my case, mathematical modeling and the ability to design these culture systems - to a problem that has been very difficult to do by traditional biological and medical techniques."
Since 1946, the American Cancer Society has devoted almost $4 billion to lifesaving cancer research, targeting research areas with the potential to have the greatest impact in the fight against cancer.