Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Program

The mission of the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Program (OCEDP) is to develop, within five years, a clinical test to screen women for early markers of ovarian cancer.

Our goal is to detect ovarian cancer in its earliest stages when the survival rate is greater than 90%. Earlier detection will enhance the treatment options for women since women who are diagnosed early require less extensive surgery and less toxic chemotherapy. 

Recent OCEDP News

August, 2019

Dr. Skubitz was invited to give a lecture at the monthly University of Minnesota Division of Gynecologic Oncology Education Conference on August 20, 2019.  Her lecture was entitled, “Update on the Pap test project: Identification of ovarian cancer biomarkers”.  Dr. Skubitz reported how the gynecologic oncology surgeons, fellows, and staff in the University of Minnesota’s Gynecologic Cancer Clinic have collaborated to procure more than 500 Mock Pap tests to be used for this research project.  Dr. Skubitz provided an update on the mass spectrometry-based proteomic research that is currently underway.

July, 2019

1) Research that is ongoing in the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Program was featured in the July 1st issue of Ovarian Cancer News Today.  The article was entitled, “Testing for multiple biomarkers at a time can increase early detection of OC”.  A link to the article is provided here.

2) Findings published in Cancer Prevention Research by members of The Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Program were featured as “Leading the News” in the July 6th issue of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology’s newsletter for the Foundation for Women’s Cancer, Aware: Women’s Cancer News Weekly.  The article was entitled, “Testing for certain biomarkers may improve early ovarian cancer detection”.

3) Ashley Petersen, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor in the Division of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health, presented her research at the Association of Clinical and Translational Statisticians 2019 Annual Meeting held on July 27-28, 2019 in Denver, CO.  Her presentation was entitled, “Constructing multi-protein classifiers for early-stage ovarian cancer screening”.  Dr. Petersen and her master’s degree student, Xuan Pu, had analyzed the OCEDP data that was comprised of the levels of 92 proteins in the sera of hundreds of women with early stage ovarian cancer versus healthy women.

June, 2019

1)  Dr. Skubitz was invited to give a lecture at the Cancer Center’s Cellular Mechanism of Cancer Program seminar series on June 18, 2019.  Her lecture was entitled, “Progress toward the development of a screening test for ovarian cancer: Selecting the right biomarkers”.

2)  Faculty and staff of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology and the OCEDP hosted the Chemo Chicks for an evening of lectures and tours of the research laboratories on June 26, 2019.  Dr. Skubitz gave a lecture entitled, “Ovarian cancer: Identification of biomarkers and a new trick for treatment”.  The Chemo Chicks are a group of ovarian cancer survivors who are interested in the research projects that are ongoing in the OCEDP.  This was the 5th year that the Chemo Chicks have visited the OCEDP.

May, 2019

1) At the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA) 20th Annual Meeting on May 14, Dr. Amy Skubitz was awarded $150,000 for her grant application entitled, “Verification of a biomarker panel for the early detection of ovarian cancer using serum samples from multiple sources.”  Ms. Kate Geschwind, who just finished her second year at the University of Minnesota Medical School, accepted the award on behalf of the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Program.  Ms. Geschwind’s speech included giving thanks to MOCA for selecting the project for another year of funding.  In this project, Proseek Oncology II multiplex plates will be used to screen serum samples from women with early stages of ovarian cancer that were provided by collaborators at other institutions.

2) The research that is ongoing in the Ovarian Cancer Early Detection Program was featured in the May 21st issue of HemOnc Today.  The article was entitled, “Investigational blood-based assay could lead to earlier ovarian cancer detection” and included an interview with Dr. Amy Skubitz, Director of the OCEDP.  A link to the article is provided here.  A PDF of the article is provided here.

April, 2019

1) Dr. Amy Skubitz and members of the OCEDP team were awarded the 2019 Cookie Laughlin Pilot Study Award for their project entitled, “Validation of a multi-protein classifier for detecting early stages of ovarian cancer”. The $75,000 award is funded through the Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research in Seattle, WA and will be used to continue our research on detecting early stages of ovarian cancer.
2) Dr. Amy Skubitz was one of the invited speakers at the Minnesota Chemoprevention Consortium at the Hormel Institute in Austin, MN on April 16. The title of her lecture was, "One small step for womankind: Developing a biomarker panel for the detection of ovarian cancer".
3) Dr. Amy Skubitz was featured on Kare 11 TV News on April 18-19, for her research that may eventually lead to developing the first early detection blood test for ovarian cancer. She explained how a panel of six biomarkers signal the presence of advanced stages of ovarian cancer. Dr. Skubitz and her team hope this breakthrough will result in a blood test for all women.

Watch the Video

4) Heena Shah, a senior undergraduate researcher in the OCEDP, presented her honors research project at a poster session as part of the 2019 Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 25. Heena's poster was entitled, "A "sticky” situation: The role of Nectin-4 in the chemosensitivity of ovarian cancer cells"

March, 2019

The results of the OCEDP study using Olink's Proseek Oncology II multiplex plates were published in Cancer Prevention Research entitled, "Simultaneous measurement of 92 serum protein biomarkers for the development of a multi-protein classifier for ovarian cancer detection." The manuscript is now available online here. This research was also featured as a Research Brief by the University of Minnesota.

February, 2019

Dr. Amy Skubitz and Dr. Jian-Ping Wang (Department of Electric Engineering at the University of Minnesota) were joint senior authors of the manuscript entitled, “Development of a multiplexed giant magnetoresistive biosensor array prototype to quantify ovarian cancer biomarkers” which was published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics.  The research in this manuscript is a culmination of a Pilot Project funded by the Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program which provided salary support for Dr. Wang’s graduate student, Todd Klein, and OCEDP’s Dr. Kristin Boylan. The manuscript is now available online here.

January, 2019

Dr. Amy Skubitz was invited to give a lecture for the Biological Sciences Division Seminar at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA on January 7. Her lecture was entitled, "Early detection of ocarian cancer: Proteomic techniques for the discovery and validation of biomarkers in a variety of biospecimens"

Previous News

October, 2018

Two research projects from the OCEDP were presented at the University of Minnesota's 13th Annual Women's Health Research Conference on October 1, 2018. Dr. Amy Skubitz presented a poster entitled, "Development of a blood test to screen women for ovarian cancer". Dr. Kristin Boylan presented a poster entitled, "Metaproteomic analysis of Pap test fluid:  Insights into the cervical-vaginal microbiome of mature women"

September, 2018

1) Dr. Amy Skubitz gave a lecture at the 12th Biennial Ovarian Cancer Research Symposium presented by the Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer and the American Association for Cancer Research.  The symposium was held at the University of Washington in Seattle on September 13-15, 2018.  The title of her lecture was “Development of a multi-protein classifier for ovarian cancer detection by simultaneous measurement of 92 serum proteins on Proseek Multiplex Oncology II plates.”  In addition, Dr. Kristin Boylan presented a poster at the meeting, entitled, "Comparison of potential ovarian cancer biomarkers by mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis of residual Pap test fluid, cervical swabs, and tumor tissue from an ovarian cancer patient".

2) Dr. Amy Skubitz presented an overview of the OCEDP's project on the role of Nectin-4 in ovarian cancer progression at the University of Minnesota's Institute for Engineering in Medicine Annual Conference and Retreat at the McNamara Alumni Center on September 24, 2018.

3) Dr. Amy Skubitz was invited to give a lecture on "Ovarian cancer early detection using biomarkers" at Boston Scientific headquarters in Maple Grove, MN as part of their Ovarian Cancer Awareness Symposium on September 27, 2018.

August, 2018

OCEDP undergraduate researcher Heena Shah presented a poster entitled "Chemosensitivy of Ovarian Cancer Single Cells and Spheroids" at the University of Minnesota Undergraduate Research Symposium on August 9, 2018.

July, 2018

The OCEDP's Dr. Kristin Boylan published a paper on the feasibility of utilizing residual Pap test fluid as a resource in the metaproteomic analysis of the cervical-vaginal microbiome. 

View the paper on PubMed.

June, 2018

Faculty and staff of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology and the OCEDP hosted the Chemo Chicks for an evening of lectures and tours of the research laboratories on June 7, 2018.  The Chemo Chicks are a group of ovarian cancer survivors who are interested in the research projects that are ongoing in the OCEDP.  This was the 4th year that the Chemo Chicks have visited the OCEDP.

March, 2018

Research projects from the OCEDP were presented at the U.S. Human Proteome Organization 2018 Conference held in Minneapolis, MN on March 11-14.  Dr. Skubitz presented a poster entitled, “Development of a multi-protein classifier for ovarian cancer detection by the simultaneous measurement of 92 serum proteins.”  Ms. Anna Rogers, a graduate student in Dr. Skubitz’s laboratory, gave an oral presentation entitled, “Optimization of sample preparation methods for using residual Pap test fixatives for mass spectrometry-based proteomic identification of ovarian cancer biomarkers”.

Ms. Anna Rogers presented her research as a poster at the 2018 Masonic Cancer Center’s 8th Annual Cancer Research Symposium held in Minneapolis, MN on March 29.  Her poster was entitled, “The search for ovarian cancer biomarkers in Pap test fixative”.

January, 2018

Dr. Skubitz gave a lecture to the Ovarian Cancer Supergroup at the University of Minnesota on January 17 entitled, “Identification of ovarian cancer biomarkers in serum samples using Olink Proseek® multiplex plates”

September, 2017

Dr. Amy Skubitz was the keynote scientific speaker at the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance's Light Duluth Teal Gala event held on September 23 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.  This annual fundraiser for MOCA included a live auction and Duluth's aerial lift bridge was lit in teal in recognition of September being Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.

Contact

Amy P.N. Skubitz, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology
Adjunct Professor, Dept Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health
University of Minnesota
MMC 395
420 Delaware Street, S.E.
Minneapolis, MN  55455
skubi002@umn.edu