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Susan J. Ramus, Ph.D.
Research performed at: USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center
Specialty/Research Area: Ovarian Cancer
Award Year: 2012
Career Summary:  Dr. Ramus is Associate Professor in Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine, USC Norris. She received her Ph.D. in Genetics in 1984 from the University of Melbourne (Vic, Australia). From 1996 – 2001, she undertook a research fellowship in oncology under Prof. Bruce Ponder at the University of Cambridge (UK). She was then Senior Research Fellow, Department of pathology, University of Melbourne (2001 – 04). From 2004 – 08, she was Senior Scientist, Department of Gynaecological Oncology, UCL EGA Institute for Women’s Health, University College London (UK), and then undertook a lectureship at that institution from 2009 – 10. She is a key member of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC) and the Collaborative Oncological Gene-environmental Study (COGS). She helped establish the Ovarian Tumor Tissue Analysis (OTTA) Consortium, which consists of 37 studies with over 7,000 ovarian cancer tissue samples made widely available for use in large-scale pathology studies.

Year STOP CANCER Award was received:  2012 Marni Levine Memorial Seed Grant

Description of research performed:  Dr. Ramus studies genetic susceptibility to disease, and in particular the identification of genetic mutations and common variants that predispose to ovarian cancer. Additionally, she has studied the molecular pathology of both breast and ovarian cancers using various forms of tumor profiling, including comparative genomic hybridization, immunohistochemistry, and loss of heterozygosity profiling for clonality. Dr. Ramus' lab has prepared RNA (the genetic material that makes proteins) from paraffin embedded tumor material from 220 patients with ovarian cancer from three different studies in their large international consortium. They tested the material using two different methods to determine which method was the most suitable. They have shown the feasibility of using this technology with material from their paraffin tumor samples, which allowed them to show that some of the selected genes influenced survival and therefore feasibility of their approach to discover prognostic genes.

Results of research:  Dr. Ramus has led efforts to identify common genetic variants that modify the risks of ovarian cancer in women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations as part of a large international consortium, the Consortium of Investigators of Modifiers of BRCA1/2 (CIMBA), and she has published findings from those studies. Dr. Ramus is currently in the final analysis of approximate 400 cases. This study was part of a larger project, where several groups pooled resources to study many different genes. She may potentially publish five research publications that use data from these samples. This will advance Dr. Ramus ovarian cancer research and also increase visibility and awareness of their Ovarian Tumor Tissue Analysis (OTTA) consortium.

STOP CANCER is committed to funding the most promising and innovative scientists in their early research of all forms of cancer prevention, treatment, cures and subsequent clinical applications. STOP CANCER works primarily with local National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and other qualified institutions in the United States to carry out its mission.

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