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Current Research Projects

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NCI R01 (Burdette/Draper)

Dynamic interactions of the ovarian-fallopian axis in high grade serous cancer

It is now recognized that a large percentage of high grade serous ovarian cancers arise in the fallopian tube and colonize the ovary as the primary metastatic step.  Since one of the largest tumor masses tends to be found in the ovary after diagnosis, this raises the possibility that the ovary contributes to tumor spread and aggressiveness. One of the risk factors associated with ovarian cancer is the lifetime number of ovulations. Few models are currently available that allow the process of ovulation and the development of ovarian cancer to be studied. To address this gap, we have engineered fallopian tube and ovary cultures on a tissue chip to study ovulation and early events in high grade serous cancer formation from the fallopian tube.


NCI R01 (Sanchez/Burdette)

Imaging mass spectrometry for studying the metabolites of cancer metastasis

Our lab has an ongoing collaboration with Dr. Laura Sanchez to use untargeted analysis of the metabolites with spatial distribution being exchanged between cancer cells and the ovarian microenvironment . The metastatic colonization of high grade serous cancers to the microenvironment of the ovary is likely governed by a series of chemical signals with spatial distribution that relate to both the ovary and the fallopian tube tumor cells. Matrix assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight (MALDI-TOF) imaging mass spectrometry (IMS) is a technology capable of capturing spatial distribution of the molecular ions present in a sample.


NCCIH R01 (Murphy/Burdette)

Chemical and biological identification of phytoprogestins for women's health

Phytoprogestins need to be identified and studied in order to apply them for safe and effective use in gynecologic disorders. To address this, our team with Dr. Brian Murphy laid the groundwork for this new subfield of chemodietary prevention through the identification and biological characterization of molecules from white peony, skullcap, red clover, and yucca, as these contained compounds that modified PR signaling. Our goal is to identify the structures of compounds in several other commonly consumed botanicals that modify PR signaling so that they can be examined for safety and efficacy in preclinical chemodietary prevention models, including prevention of fibroids, preterm birth and uterine hyperplasia. 

NCI P01 (Kinghorn PI- Burdette Core A Leader)

Discovery of Anticancer Agents of Diverse Natural Origin

Botanicals, fungi, and cyanobacteria are diverse sources of natural products that can be interrogated for new molecules used to treat cancer. The Core A of this P01 project is focused on biological evaluation of new compounds for anti-cancer activity.  This highly collaborative and multidisciplinary project integrates scientists at Ohio State, UNC Greensboro, and UIC.

DOD Teal Expansion (Burdette, Vanderhyden, Lee)

PAX8 has become a target in high grade serous cancer due to its regulation of proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. Our project focuses on the secreted factors in the microenvironment that are modified by PAX8 expression. We are also interested in finding new small molecules that can trigger the degradation of repression of PAX8 as a translational strategy. The TEAL expansion allows us to continue our original DOD pilot on PAX8. 

OCRA and Basser Grants (Burdette/Godwin)

Tumor-Derived Extracellular Vesicles in Ovarian cancer

Burdette and Andrew Godwin (KUMC) seek to understand the role of tumor-derived sEVs in the malignant transformation of progenitor cells using a novel microfluidic platform. Small extracellular vesicles (sEVs), primarily exosomes-derived from the endolysosomal pathway, play important roles in cellular communication, immune response and cancer pathogenesis via transfer of a selective repertoire of biomolecules. In the Basser grant, we focus on the role of BRCA in shifting cargo in EV and impacting the ovarian microenvironment. 

NIGMS K12 (Nonn/Burdette) IRACDA Postdoctoral Training Grant

The UIC IRACDA program is a 3 year mentored fellowship designed to provide rigorous and balanced team-based training in both teaching and research to a diverse group of postdoctoral fellows. The goal of UIC CAREER is to build a culturally diverse group of fellows who, upon completing the program, are well equipped to be leaders in academia at research- and teaching-intensive institutions alike. Apply now!

Foundation for Women's Cancer (Burdette/Sanchez)

The ovarian cancer early detection research grant helps our team characterize small proteins and metabolites in vaginal lavage as a new strategy to attempt to find markers that can be used for early detection. Using a combination of mass spectrometry and transgenic animal models, we have demonstrated fingerprints that change from samples collected over the course of disease from vaginal lavage. 


UI Health Cancer Center Cancer Biology Program (Co-Lead Burdette and Coloff)

The University of Illinois Cancer Center at UIC aims to improve research and patient outcomes for our community. The cancer biology program focuses on metabolism, signaling, genome integrity, and the tumor microenviornment. 

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