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The Biggest Challenge in Ovarian Cancer Research

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The Biggest Challenge in Ovarian Cancer Research

Dr. Gary Leiserowitz is a Professor, and Chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of California, Davis Medical Center. He is a 2008 recipient of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund’s (OCRF) largest and most prestigious grant, the Program Project Development Grant. He was interviewed by OCRF’s Sarah DeFeo.


Sarah DeFeo: Dr. Leiserowitz, tell us a little about yourself and how you became interested in ovarian cancer research.

Dr. Gary Leiserowitz: I became a gynecologic oncologist through a circuitous route. First, I trained as a family practitioner, and then decided to specialize, first into obstetrics and gynecology, and then gynecologic oncology. I was appointed as a faculty member at UC Davis Medical Center after I finished my fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in 1993. I have been involved in both transitional and clinical outcomes research over my academic career. In my clinical experience, I have been struck by the futility of current methods for early detection of ovarian cancer. It is a tragedy and enormously frustrating that the majority of ovarian cancer patients present with advanced stage disease with so few warning signs. As a clinical investigator, I looked for opportunities to work on the problem of early detection of ovarian cancer. I collaborated with a private company that was attempting to take a laboratory finding and turn it into a blood test for ovarian cancer about eight to ten years ago. As basic scientists, they were experts in the laboratory techniques, but had little familiarity with clinical trials. As I worked with them, I learned about the many pitfalls in the road to establish a promising new biomarker studies. Unfortunately in this case, the company's assay could not be confirmed as a diagnostic test. I had the good fortune to be involved with a group of basic science researchers at UC Davis who developed a completely new assay based on mass spectrometry.

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