The Mullen lab. From left: Angela Schab, PhD, Elena Lomonosova, PhD, Jaeden Barron, Davi Martins, PhD, Maggie Mullen, MD, and Maggie Loeb, in the lab in the BJC Institute of Health on June 19, 2024. MATT MILLER/WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE

Our goal is to develop novel, personalized strategies for treating patients with ovarian cancer. Our lab does this through collaboration, scientific productivity, inclusion, and FUN!   

The Mullen lab is committed to productivity, equity, inclusion, and respect. We celebrate and learn from our differences, bring our authentic selves to the lab each day, and help each other achieve our greatest potentials. Together, we are dedicated to conducting rigorous and innovative research to improve outcomes for people with gynecologic cancers.  

Lab summary: Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death due to gynecologic malignancy and the 5th leading cause of cancer-related mortality in women. Compared to other cancers, this is a highly deadly disease. Traditionally we give patients DNA-damaging drugs such as chemotherapy to cause tumor cell death. Although these treatments are initially effective, over 80% of women will develop tumor resistance to these agents and die within five years of diagnosis. Currently, we have no way of predicting the 20% of women whose tumors will be successfully treated with DNA-damaging agents, and our strategies for increasing sensitivity to such agents are limited. My long-term goal is to evaluate DNA repair’s role in chemoresistance and develop personalized treatment strategies to improve ovarian cancer outcomes.

Upon treating patients with gynecologic cancers it quickly became clear that current treatments are not curing our patients of their disease. Translational research allows us to discover more about the biology of cancer and offers opportunities for treatment and cure beyond the limits of current knowledge of this disease. Further, it allows the crosstalk of insight from clinicians and scientists to address the most urgent clinical needs. What could be more exciting than this!

Dr. Maggie Mullen on the choice to become a  physician-scientist