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Collaborating For A Cure: NOCC MSAB Members Share Connection To The Cause And Current Research Initiatives.

By September 4, 2021No Comments

Since 1991, The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) has grown from a grassroots effort into a passionate community that drives awareness and research initiatives to better the lives of the ovarian cancer community. As we enter our 30th year, the NOCC has identified 24 highly respected gynecologic oncologists, researchers, and patient advocates to serve on the newly appointed Medical & Scientific Advisory Board (MSAB) for 2021 – 2024. These highly distinguished individuals will guide NOCC’s research investment and other activities and programs that fuel our mission to save lives through the prevention and cure of ovarian cancer and improve the quality of life for survivors and their caregivers.


We had the honor of connecting with some of our MSAB members to discuss their connection to our cause and their work to further ovarian cancer research. 

Why do you choose to work with NOCC? Why is our mission important to you?

Dr. Shannon Westin

NOCC is absolutely committed to improving outcomes and quality of life in women with ovarian cancer, and they are doing it the right way – through education and research funding! It is my honor and privilege to serve as a member of this impactful organization.

Dr. Linda Duska

Information and education are empowering to patients, especially patients with cancer, and this is why I work with NOCC. It is critical that experts in the field are part of that education and advocacy for our patients.


Dr. Michael Birrer

NOCC is the premier advocacy group focused on ovarian cancer. This is a sacred mission to me and one that I am honored to be a part of. This field needs more visibility, attention to the patients, and fundraising – all of which NOCC does.


Dr. Sarah Taylor

As a gynecologic oncologist, I feel passionately about caring for women with ovarian cancer.  This includes not only the day-to-day care of women living with ovarian cancer and those who are survivors but doing research to improve upon the care that we give and come up with novel ways to detect and prevent ovarian cancer.  The NOCC mission is to support and improve all aspects of care surrounding ovarian cancer, and it is an honor and privilege to work with such a dedicated organization whose goals and visions align with my own.


Dr. Bookman

We have learned so much about the biology and treatment of ovarian cancer. However, for many women, ovarian cancer remains a serious diagnosis with life-changing implications. Collaborating with a patient-centered organization such as NOCC provides a unique opportunity to support our patients, families, caregivers, and medical team when help is needed the most.


What are some of the research initiatives and/or programs that you are currently involved with?


Dr. Shannon Westin

I am honored to serve as the principal investigator for a number of trials that seek to improve treatment outcomes for women with ovarian cancer. My primary focus is novel agent development and to employ drug combinations to overcoming both innate and adaptive resistance to novel therapies.


Dr. Linda Duska

I am very grateful to have a busy and effective clinical research program at UVA. We have robust treatment offerings for patients with all types and stages of GYN cancer. I believe that every woman with cancer should have the opportunity to participate in a study if she wants to, and it is my job to provide all options for care. It is clinical research that allows us to offer new treatment options to patients and develop novel therapies for the future. I am hopeful that I can share my excitement about clinical research with patients and their caregivers.


Dr. Michael Birrer

Recognized nationally and internationally as an expert in gynecologic oncology, Birrer’s primary research interest is in characterizing the genomics of gynecologic cancers to improve the clinical management of these diseases. Birrer has approximately 400 publications, including peer-reviewed manuscripts, book chapters, and review articles.


Dr. Sarah Taylor

My research focuses both on novel therapies as well as screening for ovarian cancer. I am the national Principal Investigator (PI) of an NRG companion study (GY-022, UPCI 19-193), “Assessment of Carboplatin Clearance Predictors: A PK Study on NCI-sponsored Clinical Trials or Standard of Care Treatments Using Carboplatin,” that is looking to improve the way we give a very common chemotherapy to limit toxicity and improve response. I am also PI on phase II investigator-initiated trial funded through the ASCO Conquer Cancer Career Development Award, entitled “Phase IIA trial of delayed initiation of olaparib maintenance therapy in platinum-sensitive recurrent ovarian cancer” that is seeking to refine the way we use PARP inhibitors in the treatment of ovarian cancer.  Lastly, I am co-PI on a DoD grant that is looking to develop a blood-based screening test for ovarian cancer looking at specific changes in cell-free DNA.


Dr. Bookman

I support the clinical research program for members of Kaiser Permanente in Northern California, which includes over 2 million women.  We maintain a number of high-priority clinical trials in collaboration with NRG Oncology, GOG-Foundation, and the pharmaceutical industry. We also have a very detailed clinical database and try to learn from our experiences over time.

About Our MSAB Members

Dr. Shannon Westin

Associate Professor 

Director, Early Drug Development

Dept. of Gynecologic Oncology and Reproductive Medicine

UT MD Anderson Cancer Center 

Dr. Linda Duska

Lawrence Penniston Family Endowed Professor of Women’s Oncology Research

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Associate Dean for Clinical Research, UVA School of Medicine

Interim Senior Associate Dean for Research

Dr. Michael Birrer

Vice-Chancellor UAMS

Director, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute

Director, Cancer Service Line

Dr. Sarah Taylor

Assistant Professor Gynecologic Oncology

Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences

University of Pittsburgh

Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC

Dr. Bookman

Director, Gynecologic Oncology Therapeutics

Kaiser Permanente  Northern California

2238 Geary Blvd #2E303, San Francisco, CA 94115

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Stages of Ovarian Cancer

Before ovarian cancer - healthy ovaries

Stage 1 - Cancer is confined to one or both ovaries

Stage 2 - Cancer spreads within the pelvic region

Stage 3 - Average stage of diagnoses is stage 3C; cancer spreads to other body parts within the abdomen

Stage 4 - Cancer spreads beyond the abdomen to other body parts


National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

Stages of Ovarian Cancer

Stage 1

The cancer is confined to the ovary or fallopian tube

1A - The cancer is confined to one ovary only

1B - The cancer is found on both ovaries

1C - One or both ovaries are found with cancer cells spilling out from the ovaries

1C1 - Accidental rupture of the capsule by the surgeon during surgery

1C2 - Rupture of the capsule occurred before surgery

1C3 - Cancer cells are found in the fluid of the pelvis/abdomen

Stage 2

Growth of the cancer involves one or both ovaries with pelvic extension

2A - Extension of cancer to fallopian tubes or uterus

2B - Extension of cancer to other pelvic organs

Stage 3

Growth of the cancer involves one or both ovaries, and the cancer has spread beyond the pelvis

3A - Microscopic cancer cells found in upper abdomen or lymph nodes

3B - Visible tumor found in upper abdomen less than 2cm in size

3C - Visible tumor found in upper abdomen greater than 2cm in size, including disease on the surface of liver or spleen

Stage 4

The cancer growth is widely spread throughout the body

4A - Cancer is found in the fluid around lung

4B - Cancer is found inside the lungs, liver or spleen

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

30 Years of Courage


NOCC begins as a grassroots organization founded by advocates and survivors in Boca Raton, Florida


NOCC incorporates as the country’s first national organization providing awareness and education about ovarian cancer.


The first national ovarian cancer information hotline is established (1-888-OVARIAN), now averaging 10,000 calls each year.


NOCC proclaims a week in September “National Ovarian Cancer Week,” with a declaration from President Clinton. “Walk for a Whisper” 5K Walk/Run is initiated.


NOCC and the ovarian community proclaim September as “National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.”


The organization produces television PSA about early detection and distributes to 30 states.

2003 received the Award from OncoLink, the first online cancer resource founded by University of Pennsylvania cancer specialists.

NOCC receives the National Points of Light award in celebration of the success and impact volunteers have made in their communities.


NOCC launches “Body Image/Body Essence” art exhibit by sculptor John Magnan as a tribute to his wife’s journey with ovarian cancer.


NOCC launches the “Break the Silence” national education campaign.


The “Break the Silence” campaign reaches 100M impressions.

NOCC helps launch the first consensus on ovarian cancer symptoms.


NOCC moves its principal place of operation and state of incorporation/registration from Boca Raton, Florida to Dallas, Texas.

NOCC advocates help to double Department of Defense funding for ovarian cancer research to $20M per year.


“Newly Diagnosed Patient Kit” is launched. DVD resource is made available in Spanish and Mandarin; 450,000+ pieces of literature are distributed nationwide.


The Faces of Hope® program and term “Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer” are initiated. 

Annual fundraising events are branded “Run/Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer®.”


NOCC partners with The Dr. Oz Show to create his Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer® campaign.

Over 1200 newly diagnosed women receive NOCC’s TEAL PACKET®

The “Ann Schreiber Ovarian Cancer Research Training Program of Excellence: A study by Dr. Ruth Perets” is supported by NOCC with a $50,000 contribution.


NOCC supports quality of life research with the GOG 0225, LIvES Study, which is ongoing and conducted by the University of Arizona Cancer Center.


More than 4,000 Faces of Hope TEAL totes are distributed.


More than 575,000 pieces of education and awareness literature are distributed nationally.

NOCC affirms its commitment to research with the newest  initiative, collaborating with Stand Up to Cancer, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and Ovarian Cancer Research Fund to support the “Ovarian Cancer Dream Team.”

NOCC is featured in the highly coveted showcase window at 10 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan.


NOCC reaches its milestone 25th anniversary.

NOCC becomes an official charity partner for the New York Marathon and launches its first platform for endurance enthusiasts across the U.S - Team Teal®.


Rejuvenate, the first event of its kind, is introduced by NOCC for survivors as a retreat experience centered around the mind, body and spirit; it later expands to a national series.

Not Knowing is Killing Us is launched as a hard-hitting national awareness campaign. 


NOCC's signature Run/Walk Series is rebranded and Together in Teal® Ending Ovarian Cancer is brought to life in communities across the nation.  


Team Teal®, NOCC's endurance platform, expands internationally with participants in Greece and Canada.  

Together in Teal® Ending Ovarian Cancer is hosted at New York City's Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, a national historic landmark.


In response to the pandemic, NOCC introduces programming offering relief to women and their caregivers including home meal delivery, Comfort for the Soul, and online professional counseling through Comfort the Mind.  

Teal Hearts Network, a series of regional survivor support groups, commences in a virtual setting.

Together in Teal(R) hosts its first virtual experience, No Boundaries, and unites participants in 50 states and 9 countries.  

Signs and Symptoms

Ovarian cancer signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Back pain
  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation or menstrual changes
  • Pain during sex