Denise C. Connolly, PhD

Denise Connelly, PhD

This Fox Chase professor participates in the Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship
Learn more about Research Volunteering.

Associate Professor

Director, Biosample Repository Facility

Lab Overview

Combined FMT and MRI of ovarian tumors in mice.
Combined FMT and MRI of ovarian tumors in mice.

The overall goal of our research is to discover ways to improve the treatment of epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC). Most cases of EOC are diagnosed at advanced stage when disease has spread beyond the ovary. From a clinical standpoint, EOC metastases and ascites production are perhaps the most significant cause of morbidity and mortality in patients because they can affect multiple vital organs in the abdominal cavity. At present, the cellular mechanisms regulating EOC metastasis remain only partially understood. Our laboratory is interested in defining molecular mechanisms that contribute to peritoneal dissemination of ovarian cancer cells to identify targets for therapeutic intervention in patients. Using a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches, we hope to better understand EOC tumor biology at the cellular level as well as disease development and progression in animals. To facilitate our studies, we have developed a variety of transgenic and novel patient-derived mouse models of EOC. Several projects in our laboratory are focused on the cellular pathways involved in ovarian cancer cell migration, attachment and invasion with the ultimate goal of identifying therapeutic agents that inhibit the spread of ovarian cancer.

  • Ovarian carcinomas in MISIIR-TAg mice

  • Highlight Fig, 2F & C

  • Cancer Research cover

  • Cancer Biology

  • Neoplasia cover, vol. 14, 6, June 2012

  • Detection of integrin avb3 expression in ovarian tumors

  • Combined FMT and MRI of ovarian tumors in mice.


    Educational Background

    • PhD, Microbiology, Miami University, 1989
    • MS, Microbiology, Miami University, 1986
    • BA, Biology, Postdam College, 1984


    • Postdoctoral Training, Molecular Pathology, Johns Hopkins University, 1998
    • Postdoctoral Training, Cancer Biology, Mayo Clinic, 1995


    • American Association for Cancer Research

    Honors & Awards

    • Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation Trailblazer Award
    • Society of Gynecologic Oncologists Basic Science Award
    • NIH Tumor Biology Trainee
    • Graduate Enrichment Fund Award
    • Orton K. Stark Award for Academic Excellence in Microbiology
    • New York State Board of Regents Scholarship


    Research Interests

    • Mechanisms of ovarian cancer dissemination
    • Targeted therapeutic strategies for treatment of ovarian cancer
    • Development of mouse models of ovarian cancer
    • Small animal imaging technologies

    Selected Publications

    Sawyer T.W., Koevary J.W., Howard C.C., Austin O.J., Rice P.F.S., Hutchens G.V., Chambers S.K., Connolly D.C.,Barton J.K., Fluorescence and multiphoton imaging for tissue characterization of a model of postmenopausal ovarian cancer. Lasers Surg Med, 2020. PMC7572562.

    Gabbasov R, Xiao F, Howe CG, Bickel LE, O'Brien SW, Benrubi D, Do TV, Zhou Y, Nicolas E, Cai KQ, Litwin S, Seo S, Golemis EA, Connolly DC. NEDD9 promotes oncogenic signaling, a stem/mesenchymal gene signature, and aggressive ovarian cancer growth in mice. Oncogene, 2018. PubMed

    Tyner J.W., Tognon C.E., Bottomly D., Wilmot B., Kurtz S.E., Savage S.L., Long N., Schultz A.R., Traer E., Abel M., Agarwal A., Blucher A., Borate U., Bryant J., Burke R., Carlos A., Carpenter R., Carroll J., Chang B.H., Coblentz C., d'Almeida A., Cook R., Danilov A., Dao K.T., Degnin M., Devine D., Dibb J., Edwards D.K.t., Eide C.A., English I., Glover J., Henson R., Ho H., Jemal A., Johnson K., Johnson R., Junio B., Kaempf A., Leonard J., Lin C., Liu S.Q., Lo P., Loriaux M.M., Luty S., Macey T., MacManiman J., Martinez J., Mori M., Nelson D., Nichols C., Peters J., Ramsdill J., Rofelty A., Schuff R., Searles R., Segerdell E., Smith R.L., Spurgeon S.E., Sweeney T., Thapa A., Visser C., Wagner J., Watanabe-Smith K., Werth K., Wolf J., White L., Yates A., Zhang H., Cogle C.R., Collins R.H., Connolly D.C., Deininger M.W., Drusbosky L., Hourigan C.S., Jordan C.T., Kropf P., Lin T.L., Martinez M.E., Medeiros B.C., Pallapati R.R., Pollyea D.A., Swords R.T., Watts J.M., Weir S.J., Wiest D.L., Winters R.M., McWeeney S.K., Druker B.J., Functional genomic landscape of acute myeloid leukaemia. Nature. 562(7728): 526-531, 2018. PMC6280667. 43.070

    Perales-Puchalt A., Svoronos N., Rutkowski M.R., Allegrezza M.J., Tesone A.J., Payne K.K., Wickramasinghe J., Nguyen J.M., O'Brien S.W., Gumireddy K., Huang Q., Cadungog M.G., Connolly D.C., Tchou J., Curiel T.J., Conejo-Garcia J.R., Follicle-stimulating hormone receptor is expressed by most ovarian cancer subtypes and is a safe and effective immunotherapeutic target. Clin Cancer Res. 23(2): 441-453, 2017. PMC5241180. 8.911

    Gritsina G, Xiao F, O'Brien SW, Gabbasov R, Maglaty MA, Xu RH, Thapa RJ, Zhou Y, Nicolas E, Litwin S, Balachandran S, Sigal LJ, Huszar D, Connolly DC. Targeted Blockade of JAK/STAT3 Signaling Inhibits Ovarian Carcinoma Growth. Mol Cancer Ther 2015;14:1035-47. PubMed

    Liu H, Xiao F, Serebriiskii IG, O'Brien SW, Maglaty MA, Astsaturov I, Litwin S, Martin LP, Proia DA, Golemis EA, Connolly DC. Network Analysis Identifies an HSP90-Central Hub Susceptible in Ovarian Cancer. Clinical Cancer Research 2013;Published OnlineFirst July 30, 2013; doi:10.1158/1078-0432. CCR-13-1115.abstract. PubMed

    Do TV, Xiao F, Bickel LE, Klein-Szanto AJ, Pathak HB, Hua X, Howe C, O'Brien SW, Maglaty M, Ecsedy JA, Litwin S, Golemis EA, Schilder RJ, Godwin AK, Connolly DC. Aurora kinase A mediates epithelial ovarian cancer cell migration and adhesion. Oncogene 2014;33:539-49. PubMed

    Hensley HH, Roder NA, O'Brien SW, Bickel LE, Xiao F, Litwin S, Connolly DC. Combined in vivo molecular and anatomic imaging for detection of ovarian carcinoma-associated protease activity and integrin expression in mice. Neoplasia 2012;14:451-62.  PubMed

    Quinn BA, Xiao F, Bickel L, Martin L, Hua X, Klein-Szanto A, Connolly DC. Development of a syngeneic mouse model of epithelial ovarian cancer. J Ovarian Res 2010;3:24. PubMed

    Quinn BA, Brake T, Hua X, Baxter-Jones K, Litwin S, Ellenson LH, Connolly DC. Induction of ovarian leiomyosarcomas in mice by conditional inactivation of Brca1 and p53. PLoS One 2009;4:e8404. PubMed... Expand

    Additional Publications

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    This Fox Chase professor participates in the Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship
    Learn more about Research Volunteering.