Fiona Simpkins, M.D.
Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
Description of Research
Dr. Simpkins’ primary research goal is to identify new molecular targets and develop novel strategies for therapeutic intervention in gynecologic malignancies with the ultimate goal of bringing them to the clinic.
Ovarian cancer (OVCA) is the most lethal gynecological malignancy. New and well tolerated therapies are clearly needed to treat this devastating disease. Advanced stage ovarian cancers demonstrate de novo resistance or ultimately develop drug resistance. Understanding the mechanism of resistance may provide insights to the development of more effective therapies for OVCA patients. There is clear evidence that estrogens drive proliferation in a subset of ovarian cancers. Estrogen receptor (ER) is expressed in 67% of ovarian cancers. A major problem in ovarian cancer is that some patients do not initially respond and if they do initially respond, most develop anti-estrogen resistance. Dr. Simpkins’ present funded research focuses on improving the efficacy of anti-hormonals for estrogen receptor positive ovarian cancer by targeting estrogen receptor associated signaling pathways. We hope to identify more effective molecular targeting drug combination therapies to delay or prevent anti-estrogen resistance in recurrent ovarian cancer.
She is also investigating the role of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in ovarian cancer. Stem cell research in ovarian cancer has been explored minimally, and warrants further investigation. Cancer stem cells have been implicated in the development of drug resistance.
Dr. Simpkins has been designated the Phase I clinical trial leader for the Division of Gynecology Oncology. She is the principal investigator for a phase I dose-escalation study to assess the safety and biological activity of recombinant human interleukin-18 (Sb-485232) in combination with pegylated lipsomal doxorubicin (Doxil) for recurrent ovarian cancer patients. She has other phase I trials coming for gynecologic cancers. She is also a participating physician in the Gynecological Cancer Site Disease Group.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications
- Capo-Chichi CD, Cai KQ, Simpkins F, Ganjei-Azar P, Godwin AK, Xu XX. Nuclear envelope structural defects cause chromosomal numerical instability and aneuploidy in ovarian cancer. BMC Med 9:28, 2011. Read more »
- Kunos C, Simpkins F, Gibbons H, Tian C, Homesley H. Radiation Therapy Compared With Pelvic Node Resection for Node-Positive Vulvar Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Obstet Gynecol 114:537-546,2009. Read more »
- Devoogdt N, Rasool N, Hoskins E, Simpkins F, Tchabo N, Kohn EC. Overexpression of protease inhibitor-dead secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor causes more aggressive ovarian cancer in vitro and in vivo. Cancer Sci 100:434-40, 2009. Read more »
Collaborating in the Multidisciplinary Research Program(s):