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Matei Lab

Daniela Matei, MD, a leading ovarian cancer researcher and oncologist, is Professor of Gynecologic Oncology & Hematology/Oncology in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and a member of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University. She is the co-leader of Lurie Cancer Center's Women’s Cancer Research Program.

Matei joined Northwestern from the Indiana University School of Medicine, where she was a professor in the Departments of Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology and co-leader of Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center’s Experimental and Developmental Therapeutics Program, coordinating drug development efforts at the bench and in the clinic. Her laboratory studies mechanisms of ovarian cancer metastasis and novel therapeutics for ovarian cancer.

Areas of Focus

One direction of Matei’s current research focuses on finding new treatments to eradicate ovarian cancer stem cells and improve outcomes for women with this deadly cancer. Another area of investigation is to characterize epigenetic modifications in chemotherapy resistant tumors, to target the epigenome and re-establish response to chemotherapy for ovarian tumors that have become resistant to treatment. Lastly, Matei’s laboratory studies lipid metabolism in ovarian cancer and its contributions to cancer stemness and metastasis. Matei is actively engaged in clinical research and is involved in numerous clinical trials that test novel therapies for ovarian cancer, including cooperative group and National Cancer Institute–sponsored trials for gynecologic cancers. Together with Dr. Al Benson, MD, she co-leads the NCTN activities of the Lurie Cancer Center, as a LAPS site.

Together with Drs. Marcus Peter, PhD and Jeffrey Sosman, MD, Matei co-leads the Lurie Cancer Center’s Translational Research Program in Solid Tumors. The goal of the Program is to advance understanding of solid cancers — identifying molecular drivers and developing targeted, personalized approaches for cancer care. In collaboration with Dr. Jindan Yu, Phd, Matei co-leads the Translational Bridge Program of the Lurie Cancer Center, which facilitates bench to bedside research and training of post-doctoral fellows. She was the recipient of several awards for significant contributions to clinical or basic science cancer research.

Our Team

Daniela E. Matei, MD

Diana, Princess of Wales Professor of Cancer Research
Professor of Medicine (Hematology & Oncology) and Obstetrics & Gynecology (Gynecologic Oncology)

Horacio Cardenas, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Cardenas' research primarily focuses on epigenetic regulation of ovarian cancer. His research interests also include the role of lipid metabolism in ovarian cancer.

BS degree in Animal Science from National Agrarian University
MS degree in Reproductive Physiology from Montana State University
PhD degree in Reproductive Physiology from Ohio State University
Hao Huang

Research Assistant Professor

Huang's major interest is epigenetic studies of cancer. He focuses on the functions of DNA/RNA-methylation in ovarian cancer and epigenetic mechanisms in clinical trial studies.

BS degree in Chemistry from Yanbian University
MS degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Choungbuk National University
PhD degree in Cell and Development Biology from Seoul National University
Andres Valdivia, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Valdivia's research focuses on the interaction of adipocytes (fat cells) with cancer cells and how this interaction changes the epigenetic of histones in cancer cells. His research is also looking to understand the mechanisms of chemotherapy resistance that the adipocytes may confer.

BS degree in Biology from Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
MS degree in Biological Sciences from Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
PhD degree in Biological Sciences, mention in physiology from Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
Yinu Wang, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Wang's research primarily focuses on defining epigenetic signatures of ovarian cancer stem cells (OCSCs) and discovering the specific vulnerabilities of OCSCs, and finding effective maintenance strategies after chemotherapy to therapeutically target and eradicate OCSCs, with the goal to prevent tumor relapse and improve survival rates of women with HGSOC.

BS degree in Pharmacy from Shenyang Pharmaceutical University
MS degree in Biology from Western Kentucky University
PhD degree in Pharmacology from Indiana University
Yaqi Zhang, MS

Graduate Student

Zhang's research focuses on targeting ovarian cancer stem cells.

BS degree in Pharmacy from Peking University;
MS degree in Biotechnology from Northwestern University
Guangyuan Zhao, MRes

Graduate Student

Zhao's research focuses on the role of stearoyl CoA desaturase 1 (SCD), an enzyme that converts saturated fatty acids to unsaturated fatty acids, in ovarian cancer stem cells. He aims at revealing the underlying mechanism by which ovarian cancer stem cells produce more unsaturated fatty acids and maintain their stemness.

BS degree in Chemistry from Wuhan University
MRes degree in Chemical Biology from Imperial College London