Hector Franco, PhD
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
2022 Lester and Bernice Smith Pilot Study Award
Identifying Drivers of Therapeutic Resistance in Ovarian Cancer at Single-Cell Resolution
Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers among women worldwide. Most women respond well to the standard treatment; however, up to 75% of these patients experience a recurrence of the disease due to the tumor cells becoming resistant to chemotherapy. This project is aimed at understanding what makes ovarian cancer cells resistant to therapy with the goal of discovering new avenues for therapeutic intervention.
Dr. Franco will use state-of-the-art genome sequencing techniques to measure the changes that occur in recurrent ovarian tumor samples compared to primary tumor samples. His goal is to identify the key “molecular switches” that are responsible for turning on genes that give rise to chemoresistance. He will then use innovative genome engineering techniques to systematically turn off each of these switches and determine the impact on the tumor’s response to treatment. The molecular switches identified in this study can serve as biomarkers of prognosis and as therapeutic targets to overcome resistance to treatment for ovarian tumors.