Amy Skubitz, PhD, graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in the field of Biochemistry. She received a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. She did her post-doctoral training at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology where her research was focused on cellular proteins that promote the adhesion, migration, invasion, and metastasis of cancer cells. Currently, Dr. Skubitz is a Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health. Dr. Skubitz established the University of Minnesota Tissue Procurement Facility over two decades ago to facilitate the transfer of waste tissue from the operating room to researchers in order to expedite discoveries for the diagnosis, treatment, and cure of human diseases.
Dr. Skubitz is Professor of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women's Health, and Director of the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Program . Her studies of cell adhesion molecules and receptors laid the foundation for her current research into how ovarian cancer cells adhere to the extracellular matrix, to each other, and to cells that line the peritoneal cavity, which contains the ovaries. In ovarian cancer, tumor cells are shed from the surface of the ovaries into the surrounding peritoneal fluid (ascites) and form multi-cellular aggregates or spheroids. Ovarian cancer is marked by localized cell adhesion and invasion, typically involving neighboring organs in the peritoneal cavity. Skubitz and her colleagues have studied proteins known to be involved in cell adhesion, including laminin, fibronectin, type IV collagen, and integrins and also the carbohydrate hyaluronan and its receptor CD44. They employed gene expression microarray technology to analyze more than a thousand different tumor and normal tissues in a search for biomarkers for ovarian cancer. They identified Nectin-4, a cell-cell adhesion molecule that can be shed from the ovarian cancer cell surface and enter the bloodstream, suggesting that Nectin-4 could potentially serve as both a tissue and serum marker for ovarian cancer. Ongoing studies are focused on elucidating the biological role of Nectin-4 in ovarian cancer progression. In related research, Skubitz is analyzing fluid samples from human Pap tests for evidence of ovarian cancer. Her hypothesis is that proteins or peptides can be shed from the ovarian tumor, pass through the fallopian tubes and enter the cervix, where they could potentially be detectable in fluid collected in a standard Pap test. Mass spectrometry is being used to identify and quantify ovarian cancer-specific protein markers.
Selected publications since 2004
- Boylan KLM, Petersen A, Starr TK, Pu X, Geller MA, Bast RC Jr, Lu KH, Cavallaro U, Connolly DC, Elias KM, Cramer DW, Pejovic T, Skubitz APN. Development of a Multiprotein Classifier for the Detection of Early Stage Ovarian Cancer. Cancers (Basel). 2022 Jun 23;14(13):3077. doi: 10.3390/cancers14133077.
- Boylan KLM, Afiuni-Zahdeh S, Geller MA, Argenta PA, Griffin TJ, and Skubitz APN. Evaluation of the potential of Pap test fluid and cervical swabs to serve as clinical diagnostic biospecimens for the detection of ovarian cancer by mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Clinical Proteomics (2021) 18:4.
- Boylan, K.L.M, Manion, R.D., Shah, H., Skubitz, K.M., and Skubitz, A.P.N.(2020) Inhibition of ovarian cancer cell spheroid formation by synthetic peptides derived from Nectin-4. International Journal of Molecular Sciences21:4637.
- Skubitz, K.M., Wilson, J.D., Cheng, E.Y., Lindgren, B.R., Boylan, K.L.M., and Skubitz, A.P.N. (2019) Effect of chemotherapy on cancer stem cells and tumor-associated macrophages in a prospective study of preoperative chemotherapy in soft tissue sarcoma. Journal of Translational Medicine17(1):130.
- Uppendahl, L.D., Felices, M.D., Bendzick, L., Ryan, C., Kodal, B., Hinderlie, P., Boylan, K.L.M., Skubitz, A.P.N., Miller, J.S., Geller, M.A. (2019) Cytokine-induced memory-like natural killer cells have enhanced function, proliferation, and in vivo expansion against ovarian cancer cells. Gynecologic Oncology 2019; 153: 149–157.
- Skubitz, A.P.N., Boylan, K.LM., Geschwind, K., Cao, Q., Starr, T.K., Geller, M.A., Celestino, J., Bast Jr., R.C., Lu, K.H., and Koopmeiners, J.S. Simultaneous measurement of 92 serum protein biomarkers for the development of a multi-protein classifier for ovarian cancer detection. Cancer Prevention Research 2019; 12(3).
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