Dialog Box

Our Scientific Advisory Committee

Our Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) plays a key role in driving the OCRF towards achieving its mission by providing informed and expert advice in funding the most innovative and promising ovarian cancer research. Our esteemed SAC members are experts in their fields and come from across the globe to support the Committee of Management in awarding grants for maximum impact and innovation in ovarian cancer research.

Dr L. Jane McNeilage

Scientific Advisory Committee Chairperson

Committee of Management Member

Dr Geraldine Goss

Committee of Management Secretary

Professor Iain McNeish

Director, Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre, Imperial College London

Professor McNeish is the Director of the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre and Cancer theme lead in the Imperial NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. Externally, he is Chair of the UK's National Cancer Research Institute Gynaecological Group. His research focuses on ovarian cancer, specifically developing improved therapies through greater understanding of disease biology. With James Brenton in Cambridge, he co-leads the BriTROC translational research collaborative and holds a programme grant from Cancer Research UK investigating copy number alterations in ovarian high grade serous carcinoma (HGSC) as a possible prognostic and predictive biomarker.

Professor Matthias Ernst

Scientific Director, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute

Professor Ernst is the Scientific Director of the Olivia Newton John Cancer Research Institute and Head of the School of Cancer Medicine at La Trobe University. His research focuses on molecular mechanisms that underpin the growth of cancer cells and his laboratory team is exploring novel strategies to target cancer-promoting proteins with a focus on developing new therapeutics for gastrointestinal cancers. Professor Ernst is also an NHMRC Principal Research Fellow and a member of Ludwig Cancer Research.

Professor Kenneth P. Nephew, PhD

Professor of Cellular and Integrative Physiology & Obstetrics and Gynecology, Indiana University School of Medicine

Dr. Nephew is a Professor of Cellular and Integrative Physiology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Indiana University. He leads the Ovarian Cancer Research Group at the IU Simon Cancer Center (IUSCC), serves as the Assistant Director for Basic Science Research Bloomington, and is a Program Leader of the Walther Cancer Institute. He is the Principal Investigator and co-investigator on numerous grants from National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute (NIH/NCI), serves on various editorial boards, scientific advisory committees, and review panels for both the NIH, American Cancer Society (ACS), and Department of Defense Ovarian Cancer Research Program. He is also a member of our US counterpart the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (OCRFA). Dr. Nephew’s ovarian cancer research focuses on disease recurrence, and its resistance to chemotherapy. Dr. Nephew has made important contributions defining the characteristics of ovarian cancer stem cells and proposing new strategies to inhibit them.

Professor Sandra Orsulic, PhD

Professor in Residence of Obstetrics and Gynecology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California 

Dr. Orsulic is a Professor-in-Residence of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Previously, Dr. Orsulic was a Director of Women’s Cancer Biology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and prior to that, an Assistant Molecular Pathologist at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where she also served as Assistant Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School. Her research includes studying the mechanisms by which the microenvironment contributes to cancer initiation and metastatic progression, identifying molecular markers for early cancer detection, and generating suitable pre-clinical models for testing targeted therapies. Professor Orsulic is a member of the US OCRFA Scientific Advisory Committee and serves on several editorial boards and NIH review panels.

Professor Magdalena Plebanski

Enabling Capability Platforms Director Biomedical and Health Innovation, RMIT

Professor Magdalena Plebanksi is an internationally-recognised and award-winning researcher. Her focus is on developing practical and affordable vaccines and treatments for complex diseases like malaria and cancer. She has also pioneered the use of synthetic size-defined non-inflammatory nanoparticles in vaccines. Professor Plebanski has forged a stellar career in medical and health research. She came to Australia from Oxford University in the UK, where she showed new ways in which malaria parasites can trick the human immune system. More recently, her insights have been used to help understand cancer progression across multiple human clinical trials, particularly leukemia and ovarian cancer. Her nanoparticle studies also opened the door to new nanotechnology applications to prevent allergic airways disease. She has more than 50 patents in 10 patent families, which have supported the formation of biotechnology companies.

Associate Professor Anirban Mitra

Medical and Molecular Genetics, Indiana University School of Medicine

Associate Professor Mitra's laboratory seeks to understand the paracrine and juxtacrine interactions between cancer cells and their microenvironment that regulate metastatic colonization in ovarian cancer. They are using in vitro organotypic 3D culture models of early ovarian cancer metastasis, matched ovarian cancer patient primary tumors and metastasis, ovarian cancer spheroids, and mouse models of metastasis to study the reciprocal interactions between the metastasizing cancer cells with their microenvironment at the site of metastasis. They have identified key regulators of gene expression that respond to these paracrine/juxtacrine signaling from the microenvironment, and the mechanism by which they drive metastatic colonization in ovarian cancer.

Associate Professor Daniela Dinulescu

Harvard Medical School, Division of Women's and Perinatal Pathology

Dr. Dinulescu is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and a Principal Investigator and scientist in the Division of Women’s and Perinatal Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She received her Ph.D. from Oregon Health and Science University and completed her postdoctoral studies in the field of Cancer Genetics at MIT Cancer Center. Dr. Dinulescu’s research focus is translational oncology, including the identification of ultra-sensitive tumor biomarkers in liquid biopsies for cancer screening, imaging technologies for the early detection of cancer, precision medicine, and improving the safety and efficacy profiles of immunotherapies in women’s cancers.

Associate Professor Honami Naora

Molecular and Cellular Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Honami Naora was raised in Canberra and obtained her PhD degree in Medical Sciences from the Australian National University. She is an Associate Professor of Molecular & Cellular Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Naora’s laboratory pioneered the application of studies in lower organisms to the study of human ovarian cancer. Her current research is directed to investigating bidirectional communication between cancer cells and stromal cells, with a focus on delineating the molecular mechanisms and cell dynamics that control metastasis of ovarian cancer to the omentum. Dr. Naora has received numerous grants as Principal Investigator from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and has extensively served on review panels of the NIH and other agencies. In addition, Dr. Naora serves on numerous institutional committees at MD Anderson, and is strongly committed to mentoring the next generation of scientists. She is also a cancer survivor.  

Associate Professor John Liao

Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine.

John B. Liao, MD, PhD, is Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and a gynecologic oncologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center. Dr. Liao is a physician-scientist who leads a clinical and translational research program studying immunotherapies for gynecologic cancers. His research interests focus on the development of novel vaccines, cellular therapies and other immunotherapies and the identification of biomarkers that predict response to immunotherapy. He serves as principal investigator of phase 1 and phase 2 clinical trials and directs a translational laboratory that studies novel therapies in preclinical models and profiles the immune response of patients receiving investigational immunotherapies.

Professor Samuel Mok

Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine, University of Texas

Dr. Mok is a Professor in the Department of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  He has been focusing on ovarian cancer research since 1990 when he was a faculty in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston.  He has been serving as the Editor-In-Chief for the journal Cancers since 2017. His research includes the use of various molecular biological techniques to identify spatially resolved biomarkers associated with the pathogenesis and progression of invasive ovarian cancer, and biomarkers for early detection of the disease.


Our early detection research will save lives

“Ovarian cancer early detection programs are becoming more of a reality as researchers have made great strides in understanding the biology of this complex disease and are now testing methods to detect it sensitively.”
- Professor Iain McNeish, Scientific advisory committee member

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