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Rebecca Previs, MD, MS, Awarded AAOGF, GOG Scholarship for Ovarian Cancer Research

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Rebecca Previs, MD, MS, has been selected as a recipient of a 2019 American Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Foundation (AAOGF) and Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) Scholarship Award. The $120,000 scholarship will support her research-training program and project “Immune Modulation of CaMKK2 in the Ovarian Tumor Microenvironment.”


Working with the mentorship of Dr. Donald McDonnell, Chairman of Duke Pharmacology & Cancer Biology, the award will commence on July 1, 2019. The treatment of ovarian cancer includes a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Although the majority of women initially respond to treatment, the likelihood of cancer progressing remains high. When this occurs, physicians treat patients with chemotherapy with modest success rates. An urgent need exists to treat ovarian cancer patients with better, lifesaving options when our current therapies are not enough.

Often ovarian cancer cells, like other types of cancer, escape recognition by the bodies' natural defense system, the immune system. The immune system consists of multiple different cell types that assist in recognition of foreign cells, like cancer cells. Other cells, called T-cells, are devoted to attacking these foreign cells. In other tumor types, like melanoma, therapies are geared toward enhancing the way the immune system works to combat cancer cells. Clinical trials for this type of treatment or immunotherapy are ongoing for ovarian cancer patients. This study evaluates the role of CaMKK2, which has been observed to be low or under expressed in the tumor cells of ovarian cancer patients whose cancer tends to recur sooner. It is also known to be expressed on several types of immune cells. Dr. Previs will work to modulate CaMKK2 and better understand its role within ovarian cancer and cancer-associated immune cells. The data generated by this proposal will provide the rationale for manipulating CaMKK2 in patients to make their immune system more effectively recognize foreign ovarian cancer cells, and consequently, make their cancer more responsive to therapies. 


Dr. Previs is a gynecologic oncologist, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and member of Duke Cancer Institute. Her research interests include the immune microenviroment in gynecologic malignancies, novel therapies for ovarian and uterine cancer, PARP inhibition in uterine cancer, molecular testing of gynecologic malignancies, and early Phase clinical trials.

The scholarships are awarded to future academic physician leaders in the field of obstetrics and gynecology "who exhibit significant talent, original thought and evidence of dedication to an academic career" and are intended to  stimulate their scholarly development through the support of advanced scientific training. Research training may focus on basic or translational research, disease pathogenesis, clinical diagnostics, interventions and prevention, or epidemiology.

Each scholarship, to commence on July 1, 2019, is for one year and renewable annually for two additional consecutive years of research training, based on satisfactory progress of the scholar in meeting programmatic requirements and on the availability of funds.

—  Duke Cancer Institute information provided by Julie Poucher Harbin