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Maria Barbolina

Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy - Pharmaceutical Sciences


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Our main research interests are centered on identifying and characterizing novel mechanisms regulating ovarian carcinoma metastasis. The goal of these studies is to identify novel drug-targetable vulnerabilities in ovarian carcinoma and to validate potential new drug targets in preclinical models of the disease. We combine a broad range of biochemical, cell and molecular biology assays, as well as animal models to address this unmet need. We are also interested in mechanisms regulating neurodegeneration and memory/learning. Mechanistic characterization of common molecular mechanisms governing neurodegeneration and cancer enables us to repurpose cancer drugs for neuroscience and vice versa.

Research Interests:
Mechanisms regulating metastatic ovarian carcinoma and neurodegeneration

Teaching Statement:
Tumor biology, endocrinology, pathophysiology of cancer, chemotherapy

Teaching and Supervision

Departmental Seminar (BPS 595), 8/23/2021 – 12/3/2021
Seminar in Med Chem (MDCH 595), 8/23/2021 – 12/3/2021
Seminar in Pharmacognosy (PMPG 595), 8/23/2021 – 12/3/2021
PDAT 5: Cardiovascular (PHAR 505), 6/14/2021 – 8/20/2021
PDAT 5: Cardiovascular (PHAR 505), 6/14/2021 – 8/20/2021
PSCI 592 Lab Rotation, 3/25/2021 – 5/7/2021
Pathophysiology, Drug Action, & Therapeutics (PDAT) 9: Hematology/Oncology (PHAR 509), 1/11/2021 – 5/3/2021
PDAT 5: Cardiovascular (PHAR 505), 1/11/2021 – 4/30/2021
PDAT 5: Cardiovascular (PHAR 505), 1/11/2021 – 4/30/2021

Selected Grants

Neuronal excitability and copy number variation disorders, Northwestern University., 9/1/2020 - 5/31/2022, Obligated Amount: $267618; Anticipated Amount: $267618

Targeting Microtubule Associated Protein Tau in Ovarian Carcinoma to Increase Efficacy of Paclitaxel, National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)., 7/1/2019 - 6/30/2022, Obligated Amount: $377349; Anticipated Amount: $377349

Targeting Fractalkine Receptor to Increase Sensitivity to PARP inhibitors, Tell Every Amazing Lady About Ovarian Cancer Louisa M McGregor Ovarian Cancer Foundation (TEAL)., 9/1/2017 - 1/31/2019, Obligated Amount: $35000; Anticipated Amount: $35000

Synaptic and Dendritic Dysfunction in Psychiatric Disorders, Northwestern University., 8/1/2017 - 4/30/2022, Obligated Amount: $331438; Anticipated Amount: $331438

Impact of the Ovarian Microenvironment on Serious Cancer, US Department of Defense., 8/1/2014 - 7/31/2017, Obligated Amount: $472201; Anticipated Amount: $472201

Chemokine- Dependent Control of Survival in Ovarian Carcinoma, Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance., 2/1/2013 - 1/31/2017, Obligated Amount: $450000; Anticipated Amount: $450000

Functional Role Of The Fractaline Signaling In Epithelial Ovarian Carcinoma, National Institutes of Health (National Cancer Institute)., 8/1/2011 - 7/31/2014, Obligated Amount: $371217; Anticipated Amount: $371217

Function Of Lymphotactin Receptor-Ligand Interaction In Ovarian Carcinoma, Amer Cancer Soc (IL Div)., 6/1/2011 - 5/31/2013, Obligated Amount: $100000; Anticipated Amount: $100000

Selected Publications

Barbolina, MV. (2021). Dichotomous role of microtubule associated protein tau as a biomarker of response to and a target for increasing efficacy of taxane treatment in cancers of epithelial origin. Pharmacological Research, 168. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2021.105585.

Suarez, JS, Main, HG, Muralidhar, GG, Elfituri, O, Xu, HL, Kajdacsy-Balla, AA, Barbolina, MV. (2019). CD44 regulates formation of spheroids and controls organ-specific metastatic colonization in epithelial ovarian carcinoma. Molecular Cancer Research, 17, (9), 1801-1814. doi:10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-18-1205.

Barbolina, MV. (2018). Molecular mechanisms regulating organ-specific metastases in epithelial ovarian carcinoma. Cancers, 10, (11). doi:10.3390/cancers10110444.

Barbolina, MV, Kulikova, VV, Tsvetikova, MA, Anufrieva, NV, Revtovich, SV, Phillips, RS, Gollnick, PD, Demidkina, TV, Faleev, NG. (2018). Serine 51 residue of Citrobacter freundii tyrosine phenol-lyase assists in C-α-proton abstraction and transfer in the reaction with substrate. Biochimie, 147, 63-69. doi:10.1016/j.biochi.2017.11.016.

Xie, J, Gurler Main, H, Sacks, JD, Muralidhar, GG, Barbolina, MV. (2018). Regulation of DNA damage repair and lipid uptake by CX3CR1 in epithelial ovarian carcinoma/631/67/631/67/1517/1709/13/1/96/106/96/109/96/95/96/63 article. Oncogenesis, 7, (4). doi:10.1038/s41389-018-0046-6.

Gurler Main, H, Xie, J, Muralidhar, GG, Elfituri, O, Xu, H, Kajdacsy-Balla, AA, Barbolina, MV. (2017). Emergent role of the fractalkine axis in dissemination of peritoneal metastasis from epithelial ovarian carcinoma. Oncogene, 36, (21), 3025-3036. doi:10.1038/onc.2016.456.

Gurler, H, Macias, V, Kajdacsy-Balla, AA, Barbolina, MV. (2015). Examination of the fractalkine and fractalkine receptor expression in fallopian adenocarcinoma reveals differences when compared to ovarian carcinoma. Biomolecules, 5, (4), 3438-3447. doi:10.3390/biom5043438.

Sacks, JD, Barbolina, MV. (2015). Expression and function of CD44 in epithelial ovarian carcinoma. Biomolecules, 5, (4), 3051-3066. doi:10.3390/biom5043051.

Muralidhar, GG, Barbolina, MV. (2015). The miR-200 family: Versatile players in epithelial ovarian cancer. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 16, (8), 16833-16847. doi:10.3390/ijms160816833.

Professional Leadership

Midtenure review, 2/1/2019 - 3/10/2019

Notable Honors

2013, Liz Tilberis Scholar Award, Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation

2010, Hans W. Valteich Research Scholar Award, College of Pharmacy


Ph.D, Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology, Russia, 2001
M.S., Moscow State University of Fine Chemical Technologies, Russia, 1996

Postgraduate Training:
Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University, United States, 2008
Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University, United States, 2006
Postdoctoral Fellow, State University of New York at Buffalo, United States, 2004