Developmental Research Program

The purpose of the MD Anderson Ovarian SPORE Developmental Research Program is to encourage and develop research projects that will lead to clinically testable hypotheses that will reduce ovarian cancer incidence and mortality or improve survival and quality of life. Three or more projects will be funded annually, for one year, and will be renewable for one additional year. The objectives of the Developmental Research Program are to:

  • Publicize the availability of start-up funding for pilot projects in ovarian cancer translational research
  • Identify projects that are innovative and have significant potential for reducing ovarian cancer incidence and mortality or for improving survival and quality of life
  • Encourage collaborations among scientists within and outside the SPORE environment
  • Help potential pilot project investigators to define and articulate translational research goals and the steps required to meet them
  • Select competing research proposals for funding using internal and external reviewers applying specific criteria
  • Provide developmental funding for investigators in the SPORE institution and scientists at other selected sites
  • Develop a mechanism for the SPORE PI and co-PI to closely monitor and work with the Developmental Project investigators to assist them in achieving their translational research goals
  • Administer a flexible program in which pilot projects that demonstrate promise follow one of three courses: funding for another year, elevation to full SPORE projects or encouragement to apply for research support outside of the SPORE mechanism. Developmental projects that do not reach their potential will be terminated

One recipient of developmental funding has become co-PI of a full SPORE project. Overall, the SPORE has funded 17 of 61 proposals submitted, and these have resulted in 20 published papers (plus seven now under review and seven in preparation) and 11 funded grants, seven of which deal directly with ovarian cancer.

Please direct questions to Charlotte Clarke at 713-792-7890 or via e-mail at

Developmental Research Awards

2013 - 2014

  • Xiongbin Lu, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, Cancer Biology
    Role of the RNA-binding protein DDX1 in miR-200 biogenesis and ovarian cancer
  • Bulent Ozpolat, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Experimental Therapeutics
    The role and potential therapeutic of HTR1B in ovarian cancer
  • Samuel Mok, Ph.D.
    Professor, Gynecologic Oncology & Reproductive Medicine - Rsch
    Karen Lu, M.D.
    Professor and Chair, Gynecologic Oncology & Reproductive Medicine
    Targeting a novel adipokine omentum in ovarian cancer treatment

2012 - 2013

  • Samuel Mok, Ph.D.
    Professor, Gynecologic Oncology & Reproductive Medicine
    Targeting novel stromal-derived angiogenic factor in ovarian cancer treatment
  • Jae-Il Park, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Experimental Radiation Oncology
    Reverse cell reprogramming in ovarian cancer
  • Ann Klopp, M.D.
    Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology
    Visceral adipose-derived stem cells: mediator of poor outcome in centrally-obese patients with ovarian cancer

2011 - 2012

  • Shannon Hawkins, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Obstetrics & Gynecology

    Baylor College of Medicine
    Mechanism of ARID1A in endometriosis-associated ovarian cancers\
  • Randy Johnson, Ph.D.
    Professor, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
    Development and analysis of a novel Hippo signaling-based mouse model for ovarian cancer
  • Waldemar Priebe, Ph.D.
    Professor, Experimental Therapeutics
    Concerted blockade of the STAT3/STAT5/HIF-1α oncogenic network: a unique novel approach to treatment of carboplatin-resistant ovarian cancer

2010 - 2011

  • Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D.
    Professor, Pediatrics
    T-cell therapy for ovarian cancer, Part 2
  • Michael Frumovitz, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, Gynecologic Oncology & Reproductive Medicine
    Improving outcomes in patients with advanced mucinous ovarian cancer using a novel src family kinase inhibitor (KX2-391)
  • JoAnne Richards, Ph.D.
    Professor, Molecular and Cellular Biology
    Baylor College of Medicine
    Effects of hormones on ovarian surface epithelial cells

2009 - 2010

  • John Weinstein, M.D., Ph.D.
    Professor and Chair, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
    L-Asparaginase for possible treatment of ovarian cancer: A systems-level pharmacomic strategy
  • Sam Mok, Ph.D.
    Professor, Gynecologic Oncology
    Targeting FGF signaling pathway in ovarian cancer
  • Laurence Cooper, M.D., Ph.D.
    Grant Taylor, W. W. Sutow and Margaret Sullivan Distinguished Professor in Pediatrics
    T-cell therapy for ovarian cancer

2008 - 2009

  • Gabriel Lopez-Berestein, M.D.
    Professor, Experimental Therapeutics
    Engineering a downstream therapeutic impact on the JNK-axis in ovarian cancer
  • Hirohito Yamaguchi, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Molecular & Cellular Oncology
    Development of effective combination therapy for ovarian cancer using AKT, MEK and MDM2 inhibitors
  • George Calin, M.D., Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, Experimental Therapeutics
    Small molecules targeting oncogenic microRNAs as a new therapeutic approach in ovarian cancer

2007 - 2008

  • James A. Bankson, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Imaging Physics
    Novel in-vivo imaging of tumor vascular structure and function in preclinical models of ovarian cancer
  • Yiling Lu, M.D.
    Associate Professor, Systems Biology
    Identification of therapeutic targets interacting with autophagy in ovarian cancer
  • Waldemar Priebe, Ph.D.
    Professor, Experimental Therapeutics
    Targeting Jak2-STAT3 signaling in ovarian cancer (OC) with novel small molecule inhibitors