Grant aimed at research to help prevent Ovarian Cancer Recurrence

One of The Hormel Institute’s new section leaders, Dr. Ilana Chefetz, was awarded a coveted junior faculty grant from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance (OCRFA).  The Liz Tilberis Award honors the OCRFA’s late president and provides a three-year grant of $150,000 per year.  It is awarded to junior faculty with a strong commitment to ovarian cancer research.

“Our 2017 grantees are among the best and brightest working in the field,” said Dr. Jeff Boyd, professor and chair at Florida International University and the Director of Translational Research and Genomic Medicine at the Miami Cancer Institute.

“These research projects tackle the most pressing issues in ovarian cancer today, focusing largely on the biology of ovarian cancer, and especially on novel therapeutic approaches to advanced ovarian cancer, including immunotherapy.”

Ilana Chefetz - The Hormel Institute

Dr. Chefetz joined The Hormel Institute earlier this year and heads the Cancer Stem Cells and Necroptosis lab.  This research grant will allow further research into chemotherapy resistance related to ovarian cancer stem-like cells.  Not all cancer cells are similar – a small percentage has special capabilities that allow them to grow and become resistant to traditional cancer treatment drugs. These are called Cancer Stem Cells. Dr. Chefetz’s research focuses on designing therapies to target these Cancer Stem Cells by initiating necroptosis (a form of cell death). Dr. Chefetz aims to eliminate conventional chemotherapy resistant cells to prevent cancer recurrence in the patient.

Dr. Chefetz has a doctorate in genetics and molecular dermatology from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, Department of Medicine and comes just prior from University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota is a leading cancer research department of UMN and part of the Masonic Cancer Center, an NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center.

About Dr. Ilana Chefetz Menaker

Ilana Chefetz Menaker obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Food Engineering and Biotechnology from Technion. Ilana earned a PhD with Eli Sprecher working on rare dermatology disorder, Familial Tumoral Calcinosis. As a graduate student she was awarded Neeman Excellence Scholarship and Technion Woman Excellence Scientist Prize to continue for postdoctoral studies abroad.

After finishing her PhD Ilana joined the laboratory of Gil Mor at Yale Medical School where she was awarded three-year Life Science Postdoctoral Fellowship and was a recipient of 2010 AACR Scholar-in-Training Award. After a Postdoctoral position with Dr. Gil Mor at Yale, Dr. Chefetz moved to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center to work with Dr. Ron Buckanovich. Her research there focused on developing novel therapeutics which target ALDH, an enzyme specifically expressed in chemotherapy resistant Cancer Stem-like cells. At University of Michigan Ilana received Ann and Sol Schreiber Mentored Investigator award, Foundation for Women’s Cancer WeRoc Research grant, and Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Pilot Award. In addition, Dr. Chefetz was awarded University of Michigan 2015 Outstanding postdoctoral fellow prize, and in 2016 was promoted to a Research Assistant Professor position.