Francesmary Modugno, MS, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor, Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Director, Gynecologic Cancer Biospecimen and Data Bank Site Co-Leader, RPCI/UPCI Ovarian Cancer SPORE



Dr Modugno is a molecular epidemiologist focused on women’s cancers, especially ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is a highly fatal disease. It is the leading cause of death from a gynecologic malignancy. Over the last thirty years there has been little advancement in understanding the underlying causes of the disease. Beyond bearing children and using oral contraceptives (OCs), few protective factors against the disease have emerged. Moreover, beyond carriage of a mutated BRCA1/2 gene, there are few well-established risk factors for the disease. Through a series of NIH and DOD grants, Dr Modugno’s early work examined the underlying epidemiology of ovarian cancer with a focus on genetic and hormonal factors. Dr Modugno was among the first to show a link between endometriosis and ovarian cancer and that OCs may afford substantial protection for these women, although OC use is less in this population. Although there are several subtypes of ovarian cancer, in general there are no differences in conventional risk factors among the various subtypes. However, pathologically and clinically, we know that the different subtypes have different origins and outcomes. Dr Modugno’s early work began to identify factors differentiating the various subtypes epidemiologically.

As the Principal Investigator of the HOPE study, one of the largest studies of ovarian cancer risk and prognosis ever conducted in the US (2003-2008), Dr Modugno was one of the first members of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC), a multinational consortium of ovarian cancer investigators that pools data and resources to investigate ovarian cancer risk and prognostic factors. After returning from family leave, Dr Modugno has resumed her research questions as an active member in OCAC. More recently, Dr Modugno’s research has focused on immunological factors in ovarian cancer risk and survival.

Dr. Modugno’s major peer and community outreach effort has been as the founder and Course Director of the Ovarian Cancer Symposium series, which brought together scientists, policy makers, funding agencies, and advocates to address the key question: What are the barriers to improving ovarian cancer prevention and outcome?


Selected Publications

  • Lee AW, Tyrer JP, Doherty JA… Modugno F, et al. Evaluating the ovarian cancer gonadotropin hypothesis: a candidate gene study. Gynecol Oncol. 2015 Mar;136(3):542-8.
  • Pearce CL, Stram DO, Ness RB…Modugno F, et al. Population distribution of lifetime risk of ovarian cancer in the United States. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2015 Apr;24(4):671-6.
  • Collaborative Group On Epidemiological Studies Of Ovarian Cancer, Beral V, Gaitskell K, Hermon C, Modugno F, Moser K, Reeves G, Peto R. Menopausal hormone use and ovarian cancer risk: individual participant meta-analysis of 52 epidemiological studies. Lancet. 2015 May 9;385(9980):1835-42.
  • Lu Y, Cuellar G, Painter JN, Modugno F, et al. Shared genetics underlying epidemiological association between endometriosis and ovarian cancer. Hum Mol
    Genet. 2015;24(20):5955-64.
  • Liao S, Hartmaier RJ, McGuire KP, Puhalla SL, Luthra S, Chandran UR, Ma T, Bhargava R, Modugno F, Davidson NE, Benz S, Lee AV, Tseng GC, Oesterreich S. The molecular landscape of premenopausal breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2015 Aug 7;17:104.
  • Lee AW, Templeman C, Stram DA, Beesley J, Tyrer J, Berchuck A, Pharoah PP, Chenevix-Trench G, Pearce CL; Modugno F, Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium. Evidence of a genetic link between endometriosis and ovarian cancer. Fertil Steril. 2015;105(1):35-43.
  • Modugno F, Edwards RP. Ovarian cancer: prevention, detection, and treatment of the disease and its recurrence. Molecular mechanisms and personalized medicine meeting report. Int J Gynecol Cancer. 2012 Oct;22(8):S45-57.
  • Modugno F, Laskey R, Smith AL, Andersen CL, Haluska P, Oesterreich S. Hormone response in ovarian cancer: time to reconsider as a clinical target? Endocr Relat Cancer. 2012 Nov 9;19(6):R255-79.
  • Modugno F, Ness RB, Chen C, Weiss NS. Inflammation and endometrial cancer: a hypothesis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Dec;14(12):2840-7.
  • Modugno F, Knoll C, Kanbour-Shakir A, Romkes M. A potential role for the estrogen-metabolizing cytochrome P450 enzymes in human breast carcinogenesis. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2003 Dec;82(3):191-7.
  • Modugno F, Moslehi R, Ness RB, Nelson DB, Belle S, Kant JA, Wheeler JE, Wonderlick A, Fishman D, Karlan B, Risch H, Cramer DW, Dube MP, Narod SA. Reproductive factors and ovarian cancer risk in Jewish BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers (United States). Cancer Causes Control. 2003 Jun;14(5):439-46.
  • Modugno F, Ness RB, Allen GO, Schildkraut JM, Davis FG, Goodman MT. Oral contraceptive use, reproductive history, and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer in women with and without endometriosis. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004 Sep;191(3):733-40.

For additional publications, see:[Author]



Dr Modugno oversees the Gynecologic Oncology Biospecimen and Data Bank. The repository collects fresh tissue and biospecimens (blood, urine, ascites, etc) on women with suspected gynecologic malignancies as well as on healthy women per investigator protocols. The repository also banks specimens for retrospective studies. Resources of the repository are available to researchers interested in gynecologic oncology or related research.

Dr Modugno is an active member of the Ovarian Cancer Association Consortium (OCAC). The consortium makes available to members and their colleagues the data an biospecimens from dozens of ovarian cancer studies throughout the world.

Dr Modugno co-leads the Pittsburgh site for the RPCI/UPCI Ovarian Cancer SPORE. In addition, she oversees the Developmental and Career Enhancement Programs, which provide seed funding for new project development.