Award helps researcher develop new cancer drugs

Maria Barbolina

Maria Barbolina received a Liz Tilberis grant for her cancer research.

The mortality rate for ovarian cancer has not improved in more than 40 years. Maria Barbolina is working to change that.

“Metastatic ovarian cancer is currently incurable,” says Barbolina, assistant professor of pharmacology. “One way to change this situation is to develop new approaches and drugs that either alone or in combination with already existing ones are capable of fighting the disease.”

Barbolina is one of six U.S. scientists to receive a grant from the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund through its Liz Tilberis Scholars Program, named for the former British fashion magazine editor who died of ovarian cancer in 1999.

Barbolina will receive $150,000 annually for three years to fund her continuing research.

She is the second UIC researcher to be awarded a Liz Tilberis grant since it began in 2000. Joanna Burdette, assistant professor of pharmacognosy, received the award in 2011.

About 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, and 15,500 women will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. A woman’s lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer is 1 in 17. Most cases develop after menopause.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, feeling of fullness, or urinary tract complaints.

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