Contact Us: 

(734) 936-5687

Analisa DiFeo (Principal Investigator):

Michele Cusato (Lab Manager):

Visit Us:

University of Michigan

Department of Pathology

1600 Huron Parkway

NCRC B520-3408

Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2800

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The DiFeo Lab

Departments of Pathology

and Ob/Gyn

Left to right: Matt Knarr, Ph.D., (Post-doctoral Fellow), Analisa DiFeo, Ph.D., (Principal Investigator), Michele Cusato, M.S. (Lab Manager), Jessica McAnulty (UM Graduate student) and Rita Avelar (UM Graduate Student). Not shown: Sreeja Sekhar, Ph.D. (Post-doctoral Fellow) and Gracie Carvette (UM Undergraduate Student).

The DiFeo lab is a well-integrated research program with a rich repository of patient-derived mouse ovarian and endometrial cancer models that are highly useful for translational research and is perfectly poised to perform impactful research to detect these cancers earlier and treat them more effectively.


The work performed in our laboratory spans the continuum of translational research starting with an in-depth analysis of patient samples to functional assessment of key genetic drivers of ovarian cancer progression to the development of a novel early detection biomarkers and therapeutic approaches to abrogate these drivers in order to improve ovarian cancer patient survival.

What we do 

One of our main research areas focuses on determining the mechanism by which microRNAs are involved in ovarian cancer biology and the development of chemoresistance.


We uncovered that microRNA-181a is frequently overexpressed in recurrent, platinum-resistant HGSOC tumors and correlates with shorter time to recurrence and poor overall survival. Functionally, we found that it can modulate several potent cancer-associated pathways such as TGF-β and Wnt signaling which in turn leads to the induction of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), drug resistance and increase tumor-initiating capacity. Most recently, we have developed a unique method to isolate primary tumor cells based miRNA function and identify drugs that regulate its expression using miRNA biosensors. Through these studies we uncovered that the miR-181a promoter contains a super enhancer which is targeted by Bromodomain inhibitors (BETi).


In addition, our lab has extensive knowledge in the use of  in vivo mouse models to investigate disease progression and evaluate novel targeted molecular therapies for ovarian cancer.