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GSBS faculty member Karen Lu, MD, honored by AACR for contributions to cancer research

April 19, 2022 By: MD Anderson News Release

Photo of Karen Lu, MD

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has honored GSBS faculty member Karen Lu, MD, chair of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, as one of the inaugural recipients of the Victoria’s Secret Global Fund for Women’s Cancers 2022 Meritorious Awards, In Partnership with Pelotonia & AACR.

The Victoria’s Secret Global Fund for Women’s Cancers Meritorious Awards, in Partnership with Pelotonia and AACR, are intended to foster innovative research aimed at transforming outcomes for breast and gynecologic cancers, while also serving as an investment in the next generation of female cancer researchers worldwide. Lu was selected for her significant contributions in the field of hereditary gynecologic cancers and in the prevention and early detection of endometrial and ovarian cancers.

Her work over the past 25 years has progressed the care of women with a genetically increased risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers, and she is a leader in defining management of ovarian cancer risk in women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. Lu is affiliated with the GSBS Cancer Biology Program and the co-medical director of the Clinical Cancer Genetics Program at MD Anderson. As a researcher, she has contributed to multiple advancements in the treatment of hereditary gynecologic cancers, including:

  • Pioneered the study of endometrial cancer and Lynch syndrome, having published multiple seminal studies of risk, screening and prevention strategies that resulted in defining the international standard of care for women with Lynch syndrome
  • Directed the largest high-risk ovarian cancer screening study, which defined the CA-125 cut point that needed customization based on menopausal status for women at high risk to develop the disease
  • Provided one of the first reports of microscopic fallopian tube cancers in women who carry BRCA mutations
  • Led national studies aiming to decrease barriers to genetic testing and to develop novel prevention strategies for women at increased risk for ovarian cancer, based on the fallopian tube origin of BRCA-associated ovarian cancer. Led two national guideline changes establishing BRCA testing for all ovarian cancer patients as the standard of care

In addition to her research and clinical care, Lu has served as a research mentor for a generation of gynecologic oncology fellows, post-doctoral fellows and students. Her commitment to training the next generation of leaders is highlighted in multiple programs that she leads, including the National Institutes of Health T32 Training Program for Gynecologic Oncology. As the principal investigator for the National Cancer Institute-funded Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in endometrial cancer for 15 years, she developed team-based translational research of endometrial cancer and funded young investigators for endometrial cancer research.

“It is an incredible honor to be selected for this award, which recognizes the work to improve the lives of women with gynecologic cancers,” Lu said. “I continue to be inspired by the next generation of clinicians and research scientists that are contributing to what we know about gynecologic cancers.”


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