Sanaz Memarzadeh, MD, PhD 

Sanaz Memarzadeh, MD, PhD
Professor

Sanaz Memarzadeh, MD, PhD, is a clinician-scientist who studies two epilethial gynecological tumors, endometrial and ovarian cancers. Dr. Memarzadeh and her team are seeking to uncover the causes of ovarian and endometrial cancer and hope to discover the nature and characteristics of normal cells that may be acting as precursors for both cancer types.

The most common sub-types of ovarian and endometrial cancer arise from epithelial cells, a specialized cell layer that lines the inside of the uterus and fallopian tubes and the outside of the ovary. Dr. Memarzadeh and her team plan to identify normal endometrial and ovarian/fallopian tube stem cells and investigate how these cells may play a role in initiating gynecologic cancers.

Dr. Memarzadeh received her scientific training in the laboratory of Dr. Owen Witte, director of the UCLA Broad Stem Cell Research Center, where she learned about prostate stem cells. During training, she realized that stem cells were vital not only for their regenerative activity, but also could be efficient targets for tumor formation in response to the cellular signals that can initiate cancer. She also learned that the self-renewal pathways for stem cells could be exploited by cancer cells to ensure their survival, and that blocking those signaling pathways could be a useful strategy in treating cancers. As a women’s cancer specialist, she decided to focus her studies on stem cells in gynecologic organs and set out to define the role of these cells in initiating gynecologic cancers.

A professor of gynecologic oncology, Dr. Memarzadeh completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at UCLA, followed by a three-year fellowship at UCLA in gynecologic oncology. She was named an assistant professor at UCLA in 2008. In addition to her membership with the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, she is affiliated with the Institute for Molecular Medicine and UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center. She also is an active member of the Society for Gynecologic Oncology.

Dr. Memarzadeh’s laboratory is funded by a Stein Oppenheimer Clinical Translational seed grant, the Stewart and Lynda Resnick 2008 Young Investigator Award, the Liz Tilberis Scholars Program, a seed grant from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and a training grant from Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health Research.