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Research Team

A few members at our bi-weekly Research/Lab Meetings. 

From back row, left to right: Maurice Ringuette, Despina Voulgaraki, Ted Brown; middle left to right: Michelle Letarte, Pat Shaw, Prem Shathasivam; seated: Alicia Tone.

Principal Investigators and Academic Clinicians || Trainees || Administration

Some of Our Principal Investigators and Academic Clinicians
Dr. Patricia Shaw Patricia Shaw, MD
  • Dept. of Pathology and Gynecology-Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, UHN
  • Associate Professor and Member, Dept. of Pathobiology and Laboratory Medicine, Univ. of Toronto
    • Ovarian and tubal serous tumorigeneisis

    • Characterization of hereditary ovarian/tubal cancers

    • Gene expression profiling of epithelial ovarian cancer

Serous carcinoma, the most common type of ovarian and tubal carcinoma, usually presents with extraovarian disease and has a high mortality rate. Using hereditary ovarian cancer as a model, we are studying the early molecular and genetic events that lead to malignant transformation.

We are also attempting to further classify serous cancer using histological, molecular and outcome data and gene expression profiling.


Dr. Barry Rosen

Barry Rosen MD

  • Dept. of Gynecology-Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, UHN
  • University Head, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, Univ. of Toronto
  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Univ. of Toronto
  • Director of the Familial Ovarian Cancer Clinic


Dr. Amit Oza

Amit Oza, MD

  • Senior Staff Physician, Depts. of Medicine, Hematology-Oncology and Obstetrics-Gynecology, Princess Margaret Hospital, UHN
  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Univ. of Toronto
Dr. Joan Murphy

K. Joan Murphy, MD

  • Oncologist, Head of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, UHN
    Associate Professor, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Univ. of Toronto

Currently Associate Professor at the University of Toronto and Head of the Divisions of Gynecology and Gynecologic Oncology at The Toronto Hospital, Dr. Murphy is on active staff at Princess Margaret Hospital and consultant staff at the Hospital for Sick Children and Mount Sinai Hospital. 

Her clinical activities include colposcopy, radical surgery and all aspects of gynecologic oncology, the genetics of ovarian cancer, and the broader implications of oncology issues in the emerging area of Women's Health. 

She has been active in various aspects of postgraduate and subspecialty education.  After an early interest in research into photodynamic therapy, she remains active in various areas of clinical research including preinvasive disease in women with HIV, familial ovarian cancer and therapeutic trials.


Dr. John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin, PhD

  • Head of the Program in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute
  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Public Health Science, Univ. of Toronto
Dr. Michelle Letarte

Michelle Letarte, PhD

  • Senior Scientist, Cancer Research Program, Hospital for Sick Children
  • Full Professor, Depts. of Immunology, Medical Biophysics, Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Univ. of Toronto

In collaboration with Dr. Theodore J. Brown of Mount Sinai Hospital, we are working on the role of androgens in ovarian cancer. Androgens have been associated with ovarian cancer progression, and we have investigated how androgens could modulate TGF-ß receptors and therefore alter the responses of cells to TGF-ß. Since this growth factor is a major inhibitor of epithelial cell growth, reversal of its effects by androgens could lead to uncontrolled growth.

We have shown that TGF-ß receptors and steroid receptor coactivators are regulated by androgens in ovarian epithelial cells and that this regulation is lost in ovarian cancer cells as well as in ovarian epithelial cells derived from individuals with BRCA mutations.

These results suggest that a dysregulated response to androgens might contribute to initiation of the transformation process. We are now performing microarray analysis on these cell populations to characterize genes, and eventually pathways, differentially regulated by androgens in malignant and non-malignant cells.



Thomas Kislinger, PhD

  • Proteomics Scientist, Life Sciences Centre

Dr. Thomas Kislinger is the latest member of TOCRN and brings an exciting new element to the team, in that he is an award-winning proteomics scientist.  Proteomics is the large-scale study of proteins within cells, particularly their structures and functions, and offers potentially enormous advances in the study of ovarian cancer. 

Dr. Kislinger’s lab will be situated in the Life Sciences Centre in the MaRS building, and he will work closely with Dr. Igor Jurisica and the Microarray Centre. 

Dr. Kislinger brings a unique approach to proteomic research, enabling a global study of the proteins present in cells, tissues and fluids.  His expertise complements that of the existing group members and brings an added dimension to our approach to the identification of early disease markers and therapeutic targets.


Dr. Igor Jurisica

Igor Jurisica, PhD

  • Scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital, UHN
  • Assistant Professor, Depts. of Computer Science and Medical Biophysics, Univ. of Toronto


Dr. Ted Brown

Theodore J. Brown, PhD

  • University Head, Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
  • Associate Professor, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Univ. of Toronto
  • Group Leader, Toronto Ovarian Cancer Research Network



A Few of Our Trainees

Amy Finch, MS, CGC

  • 2nd Year PhD student in the Institute of Medical Science
  • Supervisors: Drs. Steven Narod and John McLaughlin

My research focuses on prophylactic salpingo-oophorectomy in women that carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Specifically I am looking at the risk reduction associated with the procedure and its impact on quality of life including menopausal symptoms, sexual functioning, and cancer worry.



Taymaa May, MD

  • 3rd Year resident in the Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • 2nd Year Masters student in the Institute of Medical Science
  • Supervisors: Drs. Ted Brown and Patricia Shaw

My research focuses on low-grade serous ovarian cancer and its precursor lesions. Specifically I am studying the genetic profile of low-grade ovarian cancer and comparing it to low malignant potential tumor.

Low-grade serous cancer of the ovary is highly resistant to current chemotherapeutic regimens. Through this work we hope to identify key genes that can be targeted to find novel therapy for low-grade ovarian cancer. This, we trust, will improve the overall management and long-term survival of women with this disease.



Joel R. K. Moody, MD, MPH

  • 5th year Epidemiology Ph.D. student in the Dept. of Public Health Sciences
  • Supervisor: Dr. John McLaughlin

My research focuses on the combination of modern methods in
molecular biology, pathology and epidemiology to assess new markers of ovarian cancer etiology. 

Currently I am investigating genetic variants in growth factors and steroid hormone metabolism and ovarian cancer risk in high-risk groups.

Kelly Seto

Kelly Seto

  • 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Dept. of Molecular and Medical Genetics
  • Supervisor: Dr. Irene Andrulis. 

My research focuses on finding and studying the genetic alterations in familial ovarian cancer that may predispose patients to early onset of ovarian cancer. 

My interests include photography, painting, music and exploring the (many) eateries in Toronto!



Katharine Sodek

  • 3rd year PhD student in the Dept. of Cells and Systems Biology
  • Supervisors: Drs. Maurice Ringuette and Theodore Brown

My work focuses on the mechanisms used by ovarian cancer cells in

peritoneal metastasis.  In particular I am examining the roles of

proteases, cell adhesion and motility in various in vitro models for



Jocelyn Stewart

  • 1st year PhD student in the Dept. of Medical Biophysics
  • Supervisors: Drs. Michelle Letarte and Benjamin Neel

My research is focused on the identification and characterization of ovarian cancer stem cells. These cells are proposed to be responsible for tumor maintenance and for tumor relapse following chemotherapy. Using a number of cell biology techniques, we hope to better understand these cells in order to design new therapeutic modalities in the future.

In my spare time I love to swim and run outdoors in the summer, and I include my puppy in these activities as much as possible. I also enjoy cooking and curling up with a good book.




Alicia Tone

  • 2nd year PhD student in the Dept. of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology
  • Supervisors: Drs. Patricia Shaw and Theodore Brown  

My work is focused on identifying early events in hereditary ovarian and fallopian tube cancer. Specifically I am studying changes in gene and protein expression in the fallopian tubes of women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations compared to normal control patients to determine markers of cancer predisposition.  

My spare time is spent snowboarding at Blue Mountain Resorts during the winter and running and surfing during the summer. I also enjoy going to concerts and watching Grey's Anatomy and CSI.




Despina Voulgaraki, PhD

  • Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Supervisor: Dr. Michelle Letarte

My work focuses on the early molecular events that drive ovarian carcinogenesis. I am particularly interested in the application of high-throughput multiplexed assays such as reverse phase protein microarrays to validate candidate biomarkers associated with predisposition and progression of ovarian cancer. TGFβ-regulated pathways and interacting protein networks are of particular interest.

I spend my spare time exploring Toronto’s amazing indie and alternative rock scene, and I enjoy hiking and taking canoe trips in the summer. I volunteer at the Royal Ontario Museum and also in the SciHigh Program, promoting public understanding of science to young students. I love to spend whatever time I have left cooking for friends and curling up on the sofa with a novel.


Elaine current

Elaine Bullard

  • Manager

I came to the health care environment after many years in the public relations field.  Working with this group of world-class clinicians, scientists, researchers and trainees has been both rewarding and inspiring.  I know that this collaborative group will make great strides in ovarian cancer research and treatment.

In my spare time I like to paint and I do volunteer work.

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