Adams Lab

Principal Investigator

Sarah Adams, MD

Sarah Adams, MD

Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Division of Gynecologic Oncology

The Victor and Ruby Hansen Surface Endowed Professor in Ovarian Cancer Research

On This Page:

Research Focus
Contact Information
Lab members
Conferences and Symposia
Helpful Links

Research Focus

Ovarian cancer is associated with a poor prognosis that hasn’t changed significantly in several decades. Research in our lab is focused on ovarian tumor immunology and the development of novel treatment strategies for this disease. We have recently demonstrated that targeting DNA repair mechanisms using a PARP-inhibitor therapeutically synergizes with immune checkpoint blockade in BRCA1- ovarian cancer models. Based on the success of this regimen in preclinical studies, we launched a phase I/II clinical trial in 2016 to evaluate the response to this combination in women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations who have recurrent ovarian cancer (PI S. Adams). With early evidence of clinical response in patients, work in the lab is now focused on identifying biomarkers of response using patient samples and testing whether this combination can overcome treatment resistance.

Contact Information

Cancer Research Facility 223
University of New Mexico
915 Camino de Salud NE
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Members of the Adams Lab

Lab Members

Ichiko Kinjo Mrass, MD, PhD, is an associate scientist with extensive expertise in immunology, including T cell fate mapping, cytokine signaling, tumor immunotherapy, immunomodulation, and metastatic engraftment. She joined the lab in August 2017 and is overseeing studies designed to dissect the mechanisms responsible for the observed therapeutic synergy of PARP-inhibition and immune checkpoint blockade.

Sharina Palencia Desai, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow whose research is focused on T cell migration in the peritoneal cavity during ovarian cancer development. Sharina has a background in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, with her most recent work focused on cardiac and vessel development in zebrafish. Sharina has particular expertise in microscopy and in vivo imaging, as well as cooking and salsa dancing.

Henning DeMay, MD/PhD student. Henning rotated in the lab as a medical student officially joined in October 2016 when he was accepted to the MD/PhD program. His research is focused on developing strategies to selectively target lymphocyte subsets in the ovarian tumor environment to enhance the efficacy and limit the toxicity of cancer immune therapy.

Jaryse Harris, MD student. Jaryse joined the lab as a research technician in 2013. She has extensive experience using mouse models to conduct in vivo experiments. She started medical school in 2016 but has continued to come back the lab and is currently investigating how dosing schedules impact the efficacy of combined PARP-inhibition and immune checkpoint blockade.


Recent publications

Flies DB, Higuchi T, Harris JC, Jha V, Gimotty PA, Adams SF Immune checkpoint blockade reveals the stimulatory capacity of tumor-associated CD103+ dendritic cells in late-stage ovarian cancer. OncoImmunology, DOI:10.1080/2162402X.2016.1185583

Higuchi T, Flies DB, Marjon NA, Mantia-Smaldone G, Ronner L, Gimotty PA, Adams S CTLA-4 blockade synergizes therapeutically with PARP-inhibition in BCA1-deficient ovarian cancer. Cancer Immunol Res 2015 Nov; 3(11): 1257-68.

Guo Y, Kenney SR, Muller CY, Adams S, Rutledge T, Romero E, Murray-Krezan C, Prekeris R, Sklar LA, Hudson LG and Wandinger-Ness A. R-ketorolac targets Cdc42 and Rac1 and alters ovarian cancer cell behaviors critical for invasion and metastasis. Mol Cancer Ther 2015 Oct; 14(10): 2215-27.

Guo Y, Kenney SR, Cook L, Adams SF, Rutledge T, Romero E, Oprea TI, Bedrick E, Wiggins CL, Kang H, Lomo L, Muller CY, Wandinger-Ness A, Hudson LG. A novel pharmacologic activity of ketorolac for therapeutic benefit in ovarian cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2015 Nov 15; 21(22): 5064-72.

Adams SF, Benencia F. Immunotherapy for ovarian cancer: what are the targets of the future? Future Oncol. 11(9):1293-6.

Mantia-Smaldone G, Ronner L, Blair A, Gamerman V, Morse C, Orsulic S, Rubin S, Gimotty P, Adams S. The immunomodulatory effects of pegylated liposomal doxorubicin are amplified in BRCA1-deficient ovarian tumors and can be exploited to improve treatment response in a mouse model. Gynecologic Oncology. 133(3): 584-90, 2014 June.

Conferences and Symposia


  1. “Advances in ovarian cancer research”, invited speaker, Phi Beta Psi Sorority Foundation Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, NM July 17, 2017
  2. “Recurrent ovarian cancer”, invited speaker, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance National Meeting, Chicago, IL, July 7, 2017
  3. “Management of recurrent ovarian cancer”, Webinar for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance, November 28, 2016;
  4. “New treatment strategies for ovarian cancer”, keynote speaker, American Cancer Society Relay for Life, Los Alamos, New Mexico. August 19, 2016
  5. “When ovarian cancer comes back”, Invited speaker, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance National Meeting, Washington DC, July 9, 2016
  6. "Immunotherapy for Ovarian Cancer” Invited speaker, Winter Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, Lake Tahoe, CA, February 11, 2016
  7. “Future Directions for Immune Therapy of Gynecologic Cancers”, Invited speaker, Winter Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, Lake Tahoe, CA, February 11, 2016

Meeting Abstracts

  1. Sahebjam S, Yap TA, Hong DS, Rao A, Adams S, Efuni S, Grebennik D, Healy D, Ogunmefun E, Liu Y, Tayama T, Rixe O.  KHK2455, a long-acting selective IDO-1 inhibitor in combination with mogamulizumab, an anti-CCR4 monoclonal antibody, in patients with advanced solid tumors:  preliminary safety report and phamacodynamic activity from a first-in-human study.  Poster presentation, Annual Meeting of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer,  Washington DC, November 8, 2017.
  2. S Adams, O Rixe, J-H Lee, D McCance, S Westgate, S Eberhardt, T Rutledge, C Muller, “Phase I study combining olaparib and tremelimumab for the treatment of women with BRCA-deficient recurrent ovarian cancer” Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Chicago, IL June 3 2017.
  3. Flies D, Ornatowski W, Higuchi T, Adams SF.  IL-10 blockade sensitizes ovarian cancer to anti-PD-1 antibody therapy by editing tumor-associated leukocyte populations.  Poster presentation; Society for the Immunotherapy of Cancer Annual Meeting, Washington DC, November 9, 2016.

Helpful Links

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance has supported our work since 2011.  The mission of the OCFRA is to promote, advocate for and support scientific research as it relates to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure for ovarian cancer; to provide education about ovarian cancer; and to foster alliances to further those purposes.

FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered:  The mission of FORCE is to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by hereditary breast, ovarian and related cancers.