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Patricia K. Donahoe, MD

Marshall K. Bartlett Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery, Harvard Medical School

Director, Pediatric Surgical Research Laboratories, Pediatric Surgical Services, Massachusetts General Hospital

Contact Info

Patricia Donahoe
Massachusetts General Hospital
185 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA, 02114
Mailstop: CPZN 6.206
Phone: 617-724-1600
Fax: 617-726-5057


Elizabeth Gilman
Administrative Assistant
Pediatric Surgical Research Lab
Massachusetts General Hospital
185 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA, 02114
Phone: 617-643-3040

DF/HCC Program Affiliation

Gynecologic Cancers

Research Abstract

Our laboratory studies the molecular mechanisms by which TGFB family proteins suppress growth, focusing on Mullerian Inhibiting Substance (MIS) as a model. After purifying MIS protein and cloning its gene, we cloned the genes for its type I and type II receptors and a number of other receptors of this transmembrane serine/threonine kinase family, and used homologous recombination to uncover their early embryonic function using human ovarian and breast carcinomas as targets for MIS, the laboratory discovered that MIS produced G1 arrest and apoptosis by inducing p16 in ovarian cancer, and by inducing NFKB and regulating the specific IEX-1S isoform in breast cancer cell lines. Preclinical trials of MIS are underway in preparation for phase I clinical trials in human ovarian cancer patients.

We also study the molecular mechanisms of sex differentiation and of foregut development to correct congenital anomalies of the trachea and esophagus. As she and her colleagues search for gene defects causing congenital anomalies, they hope to design in utero pharmacologic therapies to reduce the severity of the abnormalities at birth.


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