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Biennial Ovarian Cancer Research Symposium


Ovarian Cancer Research Seminar Series

The Rivkin Center and the American Association for Cancer Research co-presented the Virtual Ovarian Cancer Research Seminar Series in the form of weekly presentations during the month of September 2020 in honor of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.


Since we were unable to meet in person this year for the 13th Biennial Ovarian Cancer Research Symposium, this Virtual Seminar Series provided an educational opportunity and helped keep our community connected during this time. The goal of the Seminar Series was to bring together clinicians and researchers from across many disciplines and institutions worldwide to share ideas and advance the field of ovarian cancer research. The Seminars sought to enhance the understanding and knowledge of ovarian cancer, discuss the most recent innovations in the field of ovarian cancer research, and address pressing concerns of the leaders in the clinical and research community.

The Seminar speakers and topics were developed by our Planning Committee and were by invitation only. AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM are available to those who attended the live, virtual activity. For those who were unable to join us live, recordings of the Seminars are available on the Agenda tab or by visiting this YouTube playlist.

  • Detection and Prevention of Ovarian Cancer 
  • DNA Repair and Model Systems
  • Immuno-oncology
  • Novel Therapeutics
Continuing Medical Education Activity AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM will be available.

For questions, please contact Jackie Lang at Jackie.Lang@swedish.org or 206-215-3118.

September 3rd, 2020
Detection and Prevention of Ovarian Cancer

3:00 – 3:30 pm

Barbara Norquist, MD
University of Washington

3:30 – 4:00 pm

Douglas Levine, MD
NYU Langone Health

September 10th, 2020
DNA Repair and Model Systems

3:00 – 3:30 pm

Alan D’Andrea, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

3:30 – 4:00 pm

Sandra Orsulic, PhD
University of California, Los Angeles

September 17th, 2020

3:00 – 3:30 pm

Kunle Odunsi, MD, PhD
Roswell Park Cancer Institute

3:30 – 4:00 pm

Tyler Curiel, MD, MPH
University of Texas Health, San Antonio

September 24th, 2020
Novel Therapeutics

3:00 – 3:30 pm

Ursula Matulonis, MD
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

3:30 – 4:00 pm

Elise Kohn, MD
National Cancer Institute

Continuing Medical Education (CME)


This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) and the Rivkin Center. The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education (CME) activities for physicians.


AACR has designated this internet live activity for a maximum of 4.0 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Credit certification for individual sessions may vary, dependent upon compliance with the ACCME Accreditation Criteria. The final number of credits may vary from the maximum number indicated above.


Physicians and other health care professionals seeking AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM for this live continuing medical education activity must complete the online CME Request for Credit Survey by Monday, November 9, 2020. Certificates will only be issued to those who complete the survey. The Request for Credit Survey will be available via a link on the Virtual Ovarian Cancer Research Seminar Series website or via email. Your CME certificate will be sent to you via email after the completion of the activity.

Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the participant to earn up to 4.0 Medical Knowledge MOC points in the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program. Participants will earn MOC points equivalent to the amount of CME credits claimed for the activity. It is the CME activity provider’s responsibility to submit participant completion information to ACCME for the purpose of granting ABIM MOC credit.

Request for Credit Surveys
September 3rd:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/P8R8CV9
September 10th:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/P3FDVZJ
September 17th:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PF652MV
September 24th:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PFCRN8N 


Approximately 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. The overall 5-year survival rate is only 46% for ovarian cancer, and the rate is markedly lower for advanced stage cancers. Sadly, the survival rates have only improved slightly over 40 years. While ovarian cancer is the most deadly gynecologic cancer, it is underrepresented in both research funding and research participants. Additionally, complicating the difficulty in diagnosing the disease beyond its physical complexities is that ovarian cancer is a rare disease and many providers will have limited access to information on the signs, symptoms, and latest techniques to diagnose the disease.

In this course, we are addressing major needs in ovarian cancer care and research by educating health care providers and researchers in the latest research on improving treatment, early detection, and prevention, as well as promoting a better understanding of the many diseases under the umbrella of ovarian cancer.

  1. Attendees will need access to and updates on the most recent research in a wide array of topics including novel treatment methods, best early detection techniques, basic biology and categorization of the disease, and recent data on risk, prevention, and progression of ovarian cancer.
  2. Attendees will need information on recent trends in specialized fields such as cancer control strategies and immunotherapy to understand the continuum between prevention and cure.
  3. Attendees will need opportunities to network with other experts in the field to initiate collaborations in research and in clinical care.


The Planning Committee has designed this event to benefit the following audiences: basic scientists, epidemiologists, clinical scientists, and clinicians as well as geneticists, public health researchers, nurses, and advocates for ovarian cancer research. This conference encourages the collaboration between professionals with a wide variety of expertise including: gynecologic oncology, medical oncology, pathology, genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, public health, behavioral epidemiology, translational research, patient care, and patient advocacy.

After participating in this CME activity, physicians should be able to:

  1. Define cancer control strategies to detect ovarian cancer at the earliest stages and to prevent the disease
  2. Identify model systems that best recapitulate ovarian cancer
  3. Articulate how DNA Repair and other molecular mechanisms impact ovarian cancer development and treatment
  4. Explain the elements of tumor microenvironment and immunology as they contribute to ovarian cancer growth and as possible targets for treatment
  5. Identify novel therapies against ovarian cancer and assess the response and resistance of new therapies


It is the policy of the AACR that the information presented at AACR CME activities will be unbiased and based on scientific evidence. To help participants make judgments about the presence of bias, AACR will provide information that Scientific Program Committee members and speakers have disclosed about financial relationships they have with commercial entities that produce or market products or services related to the content of this CME activity. This disclosure information will be made available on the website of this series. 


This activity is supported by Professional Educational Grants from AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.


Please contact the Office of CME at (215) 440-9300 or cme@aacr.org.

Seminar Series Planning Committee

The purpose of the Planning Committee is to develop the scope and goals of the 13th Biennial Ovarian Cancer Research Symposium. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s committee played a key role in shaping our alternative Virtual Ovarian Cancer Research Seminar Series. The members’ collective expertise informed the selection of invited speakers and the identification of the target audience. The Seminar Series sought to enhance the understanding and knowledge of ovarian cancer, especially among junior and young investigators, discuss the most recent innovations in the field of ovarian cancer research, and address the pressing concerns among the leaders of the clinical and research community.

Planning Committee Members:

Douglas Levine, MD


Barbara Norquist, MD

Ursula Matulonis, MD

Kunle Odunsi, MD/PhD

Jackie Lang, PhD
Rivkin Center

Amy Baran, PhD
American Association for Cancer Research


The Rivkin Center gratefully acknowledges our sponsors for this year’s Virtual Ovarian Cancer Research Seminar Series. Without their vital underwriting and dedication, this event would not have been possible. Thank you!

Gold Sponsor

Please visit the Swedish Cancer Institute website.

Silver Sponsors


Talk to your Family

Talking to your family and identifying cancer in your family tree can be a good indicator of your health risks. Download our Family Tree Worksheet here.  Be sure to include yourself, children, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

Get Educated

Know your body and be proactive about your health. Learn about your breast and ovarian health. Learn about the risk factors and signs & symptoms for breast and ovarian cancer.

Trusted Healthcare Provider

Having a relationship with a health care provider you know and trust is one of the most important decisions you’ll make about your health care. Click here to find a provider

Higher Risk in the Ashkenazi Jewish Population

In the general population, around 1 in 400 people carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. People of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry have a 1 in 40 chance of carrying a BRCA mutation, making them 10 times as likely to carry a BRCA mutation as someone in the general population. Whether you’re a man or a woman, if you have a BRCA mutation then there is a 50% chance of passing the mutation on to your children, whether they are boys or girls. It’s important to note that these mutations significantly increase risk, but are not a guarantee a person will get cancer.

Why is the Ashkenazi Jewish population at higher risk?

Over 90% of the BRCA mutations found in the Jewish community are one of three “founder mutations”. A founder mutation is a specific gene mutation in a population that was founded by a small group of ancestors that were geographically or culturally isolated. Because the population was isolated, the rate of founder mutations in descendants is much higher than it would be if the population were larger and co-mingling with more genetically diverse populations. A large expansion in the population caused the current high frequency of the mutations in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. If you are of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, the chance of carrying a BRCA gene mutation compared to the general population is increased tenfold. BRCA mutations can be passed down from either your mother’s or father’s side, and may be associated with any of the following cancers:
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer, fallopian tube, peritoneal cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Colon Cancer

Ready to take action? Knowledge is power. Take this short quiz to be proactive about your health.

Genes 101

Our bodies are made of many tiny building blocks called cells. Our cells contain a copy of our genome – all of the DNA genetic code we inherited from our parents. Our genome is organized into 46 chromosomes, 23 inherited from mom and 23 from dad. Each chromosome has hundreds or thousands of genes. Each gene has the instructions to make a protein that may control the structure or function of cells, can determine many things including how tall we are or the color of our eyes. Genes also contain instructions for many things inside of us that we cannot see, such as how our bones are formed or how our heart works. Each gene is made up of molecules called nucleic acids (A, T, C, and G). The specific sequence of the nucleic acids holds the instructions that control all the components and their functions in cells.

If the DNA sequence is changed, like a spelling mistake, the instructions may not make sense. The technical term for this change is “mutation,” meaning there is a change to the usual genetic code that may change the instructions stored in the gene. A mutation in a gene that repairs DNA damage or controls cell growth can increase the risk of developing cancer.

Sporadic vs Hereditary Cancers:

Ovarian and breast cancer can be either sporadic or hereditary. Sporadic cancers make up the vast majority (85-90%) of ovarian and breast cancers and are not associated with family history of either cancer or inherited cancer-associated mutations. Sporadic cancers arise from genetic mutations acquired in some cells of the body by events part of normal metabolism and environmental factors. This type of cancer can happen to anyone. Most acquired gene mutations are not shared among relatives or passed on to children.

Hereditary (also known as inherited, or familial) cancers are those that occur due to genetic mutations that are inherited from mom or dad. Other blood relatives may also share these same gene mutations. Parents give one copy of each gene to their children. If a parent has a genetic mutation in a gene, each of their children have a 50% chance of inheriting that mutation. Therefore, even in families with hereditary cancer, not all family members inherit the mutation that is causing cancer, and their risk of cancer is similar to the average person in the general population. Individuals who are suspected to have a family history with high incidence of ovarian, breast, and other cancers may be offered genetic testing to try to find the specific genetic mutation that may put them at risk. Importantly, individuals who do not have a known genetic mutation but have high incidence of ovarian, breast, or other cancers in their families are still considered at higher risk for developing those cancers.

Hereditary cancers often occur at an earlier age than the sporadic form of the same cancer, so experts often recommend starting cancer screening at a younger age for individuals at high risk for hereditary cancer. Hereditary cancers can also be more aggressive than the sporadic form of the same cancer. Individuals who have inherited a gene mutation may be at a higher risk for more than one type of cancer.

BRCA 1 and BRCA 2: Most Common hereditary breast and ovarian cancer

The genes that are most commonly involved in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) are BRCA1 and BRCA2. These genes are named for their link to breast (BR) cancer (CA), but they are also linked to ovarian cancer risk as well as other cancers. Both women and men can inherit mutations in these HBOC genes. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are tumor suppressor genes that have a usual role in our body of providing instructions on repairing DNA damage and preventing cancer. When a family has an inherited mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2, this leads to an increase in cancer risk. Not every man or woman who has inherited a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene will develop cancer, but people who have a mutation do have a significanlty increased chance of developing cancer, particularly cancer of the breasts or ovaries.

While breast and ovarian cancers are the most common cancers diagnosed in people with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, the risk of some other cancers is also increased. Men with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations have a higher risk of early-onset prostate cancer than men without mutations in either gene. Other cancers seen at increased rates, particularly in individuals with BRCA2 mutations, include pancreatic cancer and melanoma. Researchers are continuing to find new genes that are involved in hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancer so it is important to follow up with a genetic counselor on a regular basis if hereditary breast and ovarian cancer is likely in your family.

Talk to your family about your health history and take the Assess Your Risk quiz here