Stanford Cancer Institute

SCI Women’s Cancer Center Innovation Award

March 2024

Bo Yu, MD, MS, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology (reproductive endocrinology and infertility) was awarded an SCI Women’s Cancer Center Innovation Award for her proposal, “Novel approaches for creating fallopian tube organoids with BRCA1/2 heterozygous mutations.” Yu’s translational research focuses on ovarian carcinogenesis, assisted reproductive technologies, oocyte and embryo development, organoids, and epigenomics.

Ovarian cancer (OC) is the deadliest of women’s cancers, with a 5-year survival rate averaging only 50%. The high mortality rate of OC is linked to a lack of understanding of how OC begins, resulting in failure of prevention, early detection, and timely treatment. Women born with BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) gene mutations are at a much higher risk of developing OC that originates in the fallopian tubes. However, one of the challenges of studying this disease is that the use of fallopian tube tissue from women diagnosed with OC is restricted: it can only be used for diagnostic purposes and not for research. Other approaches to study the early stages of OC are needed. One promising approach is to build a model system that makes it possible to study OC initiation outside the body. Specifically, a model fallopian tube system that carries BRACA1/2 mutations would be an ideal setting to study OC initiation. With the support of the SCI Women’s Cancer Center Innovation Award, Yu will begin to develop this type of model system. She will investigate approaches for creating a 3D model of the fallopian tube system, harboring BRCA1/2 mutations. This model system will serve as a foundation for future research on OC initiation, early detection, prevention, and treatment strategies.