News & Updates


UChicago Medicine Media Relations
For release: November 1st, 2017

Colleen’s Dream Foundation Awards $20,000 to UChicago Medicine for Ovarian Cancer Research

Colleen’s Dream Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to supporting research for early detection and improved treatment for ovarian cancer, awarded $20,000 in research grants to the University of Chicago Medicine.

The two grants of $10,000 each support a pair of young researchers studying the disease that affects approximately 20,000 newly diagnosed women in the U.S. each year. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of gynecological cancers as it often goes undiagnosed until it is in an advanced stage and has metastasized (or is metastasizing) beyond a woman’s ovaries.

The Arizona-based non-profit awarded the two grants to UChicago Medicine post-doctoral researchers Peter Hart, PhD, and Abir Mukherjee, PhD. The two work in the laboratory of Ernst Lengyel, MD, PhD and Iris Romero, MD. Lengyel is the Arthur L. and Lee G. Herbst Professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology at the University of Chicago the chairman of UChicago Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology. Romero, an associate professor of Obstetrics/Gynecology, specializes in treating woman at risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Together, Lengyel and Romero run a lab dedicated to translational ovarian cancer research.

“Part of our mission is to support young investigators, such as Drs. Hart and Mukherjee, to encourage their curiosity and to help push the envelope of cutting-edge research,” said Nicole Cundiff, co-founder and CEO of Colleen’s Dream Foundation. “We’re eager to see what these gentlemen will discover in their pursuit to learn more about how ovarian cancer spreads.”

Hart, 31, will use the funding to examine whether a common diabetes treatment called metformin can prevent ovarian cancer cells from spreading and growing into secondary tumors. By learning how this treatment affects ovarian cancer, Hart hopes his work could ultimately lead to novel therapeutic strategies that keep the disease from spreading.

“While there have been major strides in research of breast and other highly prevalent cancers, there has been slower progress in improving outcomes for ovarian cancer,” Hart said. “Understanding how an economical and safe medication like metformin effects ovarian cancer metastasis may help us improve survival and quality of life for women with this disease.”

Mukherjee, 36, studies the interaction between ovarian cancer cells and fat tissue in the abdominal cavity to learn more about how these cells influence each other and affect cancer’s growth and metastasis. His studies have identified potential targets and through this grant he hopes to explore whether targeting a specific enzyme could lead to better treatments.

“Ovarian cancer patients often have a high metastatic burden and have cancer that often recurs after undergoing chemotherapy,” Mukherjee said. “The need of the hour is to identify novel therapeutic targets for this fight.”

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The University of Chicago Medicine, with a history dating back to 1927, is one of the nation’s leading academic medical institutions. It comprises the University of Chicago Medical Center, Pritzker School of Medicine and the Biological Sciences Division. Its main Hyde Park campus is home to the Center for Care and Discovery, Bernard Mitchell Hospital, Comer Children’s Hospital and the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine. It also has ambulatory facilities in Orland Park and the South Loop as well as affiliations and partnerships that create a regional network of care. UChicago Medicine offers a full range of specialty-care services for adults and children through more than 40 institutes and centers including an NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. It has 811 licensed beds, nearly 850 attending physicians, about 2,500 nurses and over 1,100 residents and fellows. Harvey-based Ingalls Health joined UChicago Medicine’s network in 2016.

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About Colleen’s Dream Foundation
Colleen’s Dream Foundation is a qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to funding investigational scientific research with the primary goal of developing an accurate early detection test for ovarian cancer. Currently, no such test exists, making ovarian cancer the deadliest of all gynecological cancers. Colleen’s Dream was founded in 2012 by Nicole Cundiff and her husband, Billy, a 12-year veteran kicker in the NFL. In the short time Colleen’s Dream has been operational, the foundation has granted more than $700,000 to ovarian cancer research and quickly became the largest, privately funded, ovarian cancer specific nonprofit in the state of Arizona.