Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz Doing Work in Her Lab
Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz Doing Work in Her Lab

University of Arizona Awarded Grant by The Mary Kay Foundation

Teresa Joseph
Teresa Joseph
Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz Doing Work in Her Lab
Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz Doing Work in Her Lab
Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz Receives Highly Selective Grant from The Mary Kay Foundation to Further Research on Endometrial Cancer

A University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix researcher has received a prestigious Mary Kay Foundation℠ grant to continue her work in treating and preventing endometrial cancer, the most common gynecological cancer in the U.S.

Melissa Herbst-Kralovetz, PhDMelissa Herbst-Kralovetz, PhD, has been awarded a $100,000 grant over two years for research on “Elucidating the Genital Microbiome and Local Immune Microenvironment in Endometrial Cancer Patients.” The May Kay Foundation℠ awarded a total of $1.2 million to 12 researchers from leading institutions across the country.

For more than 20 years, The Mary Kay Foundation℠ has awarded annual research grants to top medical schools in an effort to fund cancer research that could potentially eliminate cancers that effect women. One in three women are diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime.

Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz is an associate professor in the departments of Basic Medical Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, and an affiliate at the UA Cancer Center at Dignity St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

Her research is meant to better understand the role of genital bacterial communities in the biology of inflammation and type I endometrial cancer as a means for risk reduction in women.

“We can now begin to explore the relationship between the genital microbiome and the local immune response in patients with endometrial cancer,” Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz said. “This study will allow us to understand if particular genital bacteria are changing in women with endometrial cancer and/or driving inflammation that could be a target for future interventions or novel therapeutics.”

“The Mary Kay Foundation℠ is honored to present Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz with a grant to continue her life-saving work,” said Michael Lunceford, Mary Kay Inc. senior vice president of Public Affairs and chairman of the Board for The Mary Kay Foundation℠. “Fighting cancers against women is a top priority of The Mary Kay Foundation℠, and we are pleased to stand beside Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz as she joins us on our mission.”

Dr. Kralovetz in Her LabDr. Herbst-Kralovetz has assembled a multi-disciplinary team for this project, including Dana Chase, MD, a gynecologic oncologist and assistant professor at UA and associate professor at Creighton University; Denise Roe, DrPH, professor and director of the UA Cancer Center Biometry Core; and Pawel Laniewski, PhD, a bacteriologist and postdoctoral fellow in the Herbst-Kralovetz lab. This is the first time The Mary Kay Foundation℠ has awarded a grant to the University of Arizona.

William Cance, MD, deputy director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, called Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz’ work ground-breaking.

“It not only studies the role of the patient’s own microbial flora and immune cells in the tumor, but also seeks to identify new ways of treating and preventing endometrial cancer,” he said.

Michael Foley, MD, department chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the College, said: “Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz’ work as the leader of our Women’s Health Microbiome Initiative is important. The implications of her work potentially open the door to many previously unanswered questions regarding an individuals’ susceptibility to endometrial cancer.”

Dr. Herbst-Kralovetz said that The Mary Kay Foundation℠ Translational Research Grant support will provide a wealth of information on this unique cancer population that the college can build upon in future studies to ultimately enhance women’s health.

About the College

Founded in 2007, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. By cultivating collaborative research locally and globally, the college accelerates discovery in a number of critical areas — including cancer, stroke, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular disease. Championed as a student-centric campus, the college has graduated more than 800 physicians, all of whom received exceptional training from nine clinical partners and more than 2,700 diverse faculty members. As the anchor to the Phoenix Bioscience Core, which is projected to have an economic impact of $3.1 billion by 2025, the college prides itself on engaging with the community, fostering education, inclusion, access and advocacy.