Ronny Drapkin, MD, PhD

faculty photo
Franklin Payne Professor of Pathology in Obstetrics & Gynecology
Director, Gynecologic Cancer Research, Basser Center for BRCA, University of Pennsylvania
Director, Penn Ovarian Cancer Research Center, University of Pennsylvania
Member, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania
Co-Director, SPORE, Penn-Hopkins NIH P50 SPORE in Ovarian Cancer
Co-Director, Translational Center of Excellence, Abramson Cancer Center, University of Pennsylvania
Director, The Penn Legacy Tissue Program - A Research Rapid Autopsy Program
Director, The BioTrust Collection - Repository of Gynecologic Oncology
Department: Obstetrics and Gynecology
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
University of Pennsylvania
Biomedical Research Building
421 Curie Blvd., Rm. 1215
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-746-3973
BA (Biochemistry, Advisor: James Haber, PhD)
Brandeis University, 1990.
PhD (Biochemistry, Advisor: Danny Reinberg, PhD)
Rutgers Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 1996.
MD (General Medicine)
Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 1998.
Permanent link
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Description of Research Expertise


The Drapkin laboratory focuses on developing a comprehensive understanding of the genetic, molecular and physiological factors that drive the development of cancer, with a special focus on gynecologic malignancies. Research from the Drapkin laboratory was fundamental to the discovery that the majority of high-grade serous carcinomas actually begin in the fallopian tubes. This new concept of ovarian tumorigenesis has been a paradigm shift in the field and the Drapkin lab has been at the forefront in developing novel experimental platforms that address the role of the FT epithelium and its susceptibility to neoplastic transformation. These platforms include genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models, fallopian tube-derived cell lines, and patient-derived tumor xenografts. The lab is currently focused on utilizing these models to interrogate how genetic and epigenetic alterations influence lineage dependencies, genomic instability, the tumor microenvironment, innervation, and drug resistance. The goal is to define selective vulnerabilities that can guide novel therapeutic approaches and biomarker development.

KEYWORDS: Ovarian cancer, Fallopian tube, Genomics/Epigenomics of precursor lesions, Tumor Microenvironment, Tumor Innervation, Cyclin E, BRCA1/2, DNA Repair, Protein complexes, Master Transcription Factors, Biomarkers, Animal models.


Rotation projects are open to students in each of the areas the lab focuses on. Please see Ronny Drapkin to discuss potential rotation projects.


Yelena Zhuravlev, PhD, Program Manager
Matthew Knarr, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher
Pamela Rojas de Santiago, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher
Gabriel Mingo, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher
Dusan Racordon, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher
Katherine Cummins, PhD, Postdoctoral Researcher
Camille Mccallister, MD, Gynecologic Oncology Fellow
Sarah Kimmel, Research Specialist
Edwin Sedodo, Research Specialist
Harper Green, Penn undergraduate
Sristhi Chowdhury, Penn undergraduate


Denise Curley

Selected Publications

Doberstein K, Spivak R, Reavis HD, Hooda J, Feng Y, Kroeger PT Jr, Stuckelberger S, Mills GB, Devins KM, Schwartz LE, Iwanicki MP, Fogel M, Altevogt P, Drapkin R: L1CAM is required for early dissemination of fallopian tube carcinoma precursors to the ovary. Communications Biology 5(1): 1362, Dec 2022 Notes: doi: 10.1038/s42003-022-04314-8.

Balood M, Ahmadi M, Eichwald T, Ahmadi A, Majdoubi A, Roversi K, Roversi K, Lucido CT, Restaino AC, Huang S, Ji L, Huang KC, Semerena E, Thomas SC, Trevino AE, Merrison H, Parrin A, Doyle B, Vermeer DW, Spanos WC, Williamson CS, Seehus CR, Foster SL, Dai H, Shu CJ, Rangachari M, Thibodeau J, V Del Rincon S, Drapkin R, Rafei M, Ghasemlou N, Vermeer PD, Woolf CJ, Talbot S: Nociceptor neurons affect cancer immunosurveillance. Nature 611(7935): 405-412, Nov 2022.

Chaves-Moreira D, Mitchell MA, Arruza C, Rawat P, Sidoli S, Nameki R, Reddy J, Corona RI, Afeyan LK, Klein IA, Ma S, Winterhoff B, Konecny GE, Garcia BA, Brady DC, Lawrenson K, Morin PJ, Drapkin R: The transcription factor PAX8 promotes angiogenesis in ovarian cancer through interaction with SOX17. Science Signaling 15(728): eabm2496, Apr 2022.

Gysler SM, Drapkin R: Tumor innervation: peripheral nerves take control of the tumor microenvironment. J Clin Invest 131(11), Jun 2021.

Reavis HD, Chen HI, Drapkin R: Tumor Innervation: Cancer Has Some Nerve. Trends in Cancer. Cell Press, 6(12): 1059-1067, Dec 2020.

Hooda J, Novak M, Salomon MP, Matsuba C, Ramos RI, MacDuffie E, Song M, Hirsch MS, Lester J, Parkash V, Karlan BY, Oren M, Hoon DS, Drapkin R: Early loss of Histone H2B monoubiquitylation alters chromatin accessibility and activates key immune pathways that facilitate progression of ovarian cancer. Cancer Research 79(4): 760-772, Feb 2019.

Labidi-Galy SI, Papp E, Hallberg D, Niknafs N, Adleff V, Noe M, Bhattacharya R, Novak M, Jones S, Phallen J, Hruban CA, Hirsch MS, Lin DI, Schwartz L, Maire CL, Tille JC, Bowden M, Ayhan A, Wood LD, Scharpf RB, Kurman R, Wang TL, Shih IM, Karchin R, Drapkin R*, Velculescu VE*. * Co-senior/corresponding authors: High grade serous ovarian carcinomas originate in the fallopian tube. Nature Communications 8(1): 1093, Oct 2017.

Elias KM, Emori MM, Westerling T, Long H, Budina-Kolomets A, Li F, MacDuffie E, Davis MR, Holman A, Lawney B, Freedman ML, Quackenbush J, Brown M, Drapkin R: Epigenetic remodeling regulates transcriptional changes between ovarian cancer and benign precursors. JCI Insight 1(13): e87988, Aug 2016.

Karst AM, Jones PM, Vena N, Ligon AH, Liu JF, Hirsch MS, Etemadmoghadam D, Bowtell DD, Drapkin R: Cyclin E1 deregulation occurs early in secretory cell transformation to promote formation of fallopian tube-derived high-grade serous ovarian cancers. Cancer Res 74(4): 1141-52, Feb 2014.

Perets R, Muto KW, Bijron JG, Poole BB, Chin KT, Kwak S, Chen JYH, Karst AM, Setlur SR, Hirsch MS, Crum CP, Dinulescu DM, Drapkin R: Transformation of the fallopian tube secretory epithelium leads to high-grade serous ovarian cancer in Brca;Tp53;Pten models. *Highlighted in Nature Reviews Cancer, Cancer Discovery, and Cancer Research. Cancer Cell 24: 751-65, Dec 2013.

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Last updated: 07/02/2024
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