Grants - Virginia - Designated Grants - 2022

Stephanie Sullivan, MD

Funded by the V Foundation’s Virginia Vine event

Endometrial cancer (EC) is the most common cancer of the female reproductive tract in the US. There has been an increase in the amount of this cancer and more women are dying of this than in the past. Black women are twice as likely to die from EC than white women. There are many possible reasons for this, one of which might be that Black women have different stressors than white women and this can change the way the immune system works with chemotherapy to fight cancer. Our center is leading a one- of-a-kind research study dedicated to Black women with EC to better understand if a new immunotherapy treatment works as well in Black women as it does in white women. We hope to look for markers that can help us predict if someone will respond to the new treatment or not. These biomarkers can be used to help women decide if a treatment is right for them and are likely to be different between Black and white women. We plan to look at three types of biomarkers: allostatic load (a measure of the impact of stress on the body), microbiome (different bacteria make up in our bodies), and cytokines (markers of how our immune system is working). We hope to find out if any of these biomarkers can help us predict which patients will respond to therapy and help improve outcomes for Black women.