NEWS RELEASE: UAMS Researcher Wins International Lifetime
Achievement Award for Ovarian Cancer Research

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – Tim O’Brien, Ph.D., a professor in the College of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and director of UAMS Arkansas BioVentures, recently won the coveted Abbott Award in recognition of a lifetime of work in ovarian cancer research.

The international award is presented annually to researchers who have made major contributions in the field of basic or clinical oncology. O’Brien accepted the award on June 22 at the 32nd annual meeting of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine (ISOBM) in Helsinki, Finland.

“I feel very humbled by the award,” said O’Brien, “but I would like to believe that it translates into more important improvements for women’s health and well-being and more ways to treat women with cancer.”

O’Brien began studying women’s cancers in the 1960s and began focusing on ovarian cancer in the 1970s at the University of Southern California. In 1984 O’Brien joined UAMS, and in 1997 founded UAMS Arkansas BioVentures, a biotechnology business accelerator that converts UAMS research into jobs for Arkansans.

O’Brien and his team are researching ways to better detect ovarian cancer in its earliest stages. One of O’Brien’s most notable accomplishments is his discovery that a gene known as CA125 can identify the presence of ovarian cancer cells. His work was patented – the first patent ever for UAMS – and was licensed to a Pennsylvania biotechnology company. The company marketed a CA125 diagnostic kit, which is now the most commonly used test for ovarian cancer around the world.

Two years ago, O’Brien and his team successfully cloned the complex CA125 gene, which is expected to improve ways of testing for ovarian cancer. O’Brien said he hopes that eventually doctors and gynecologists will use the CA125 diagnostic kit to test for ovarian cancer as routinely as they perform pap smears.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center and a statewide network of regional centers.