• Role: Honorary Research Associate

Dr Ruth Escalona is an experienced cell and molecular biologist with a long-standing interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms of ovarian cancer spread. From 2001–2012 she was a Senior Research Assistant at Prince Henry’s Institute of Medical Research, Clayton, Australia, where she worked in the Ovarian Biology Group. From 2013–2014 she worked in the Ovarian Cancer Research Group in Women’s Cancer Research Centre, Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne led by Professor Nuzhat Ahmed, where she later undertook her PhD degree in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Melbourne, Australia. Dr Escalona’s thesis title was ‘The role of metzincins and TIMPs in ovarian cancer’. The aims of the project were to do a comprehensive analysis of genes involved in the TIMP pathway that are directly involved with cancer progression and chemoresistance using serous ovarian cancer tumours, ascites cells derived from patients and established ovarian cancer cell lines; to validate candidate gene associated regulatory pathways using siRNA and CRISPR methods, functional assays, and animal models. These studies have led to publications in reputable cancer journals.

Dr Escalona is now working as a Research Assistant for Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute, Ballarat, and holds an honorary position at the Centre for Reproductive Health, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, where she is currently based and continues her work in understanding the mechanisms of survival of ovarian cancer cells in response to chemotherapy treatment.

Selected publications

  • Escalona RM, Chu S, Kadife E, Kelly JK, Kannourakis G, Findlay JK, Ahmed N (2022) Knock down of TIMP-2 by siRNA and CRISPR/Cas9 mediates diverse cellular reprogramming of metastasis and chemosensitivity in ovarian cancer. Cancer Cell International Dec 30;22(1):422.

  • Escalona RM, Kannourakis G, Findlay JK, Ahmed N (2022) Expression of TIMPs and MMPs in ovarian tumours, ascites, ascites-derived cells, and cancer cell lines:  Characteristic modulatory response before and after chemotherapy treatment.  Oncol. 11: 796588. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2021.796588. Pubmed PMID: 35047406 PMCID: PMC8762252.

  • Escalona RM, Bilandzic M, Western P, Kadife E, Kannourakis G, Findlay JK, Ahmed N (2020) TIMP-2 regulates proliferation, invasion and STAT3-mediated cancer stem cell-dependent chemoresistance in ovarian cancer cells. BMC Cancer. 6;20(1):960. doi: 10.1186/s12885-020-07274-6. PubMed PMID: 33023532; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7542139.

  • Ahmed N, Escalona R, Leung D, Chan E, Kannourakis G (2018) Tumour Microenvironment and Metabolic Plasticity in Cancer and Cancer Stem Cells: Perspectives on Metabolic and Immune Regulatory Signatures in Chemoresistant Ovarian Cancer Stem Cells. Semin Cancer Biol. 11. pii: S1044-579X (18)30049-X. doi:10.1016/j.semcancer.2018.10.002. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PubMed PMID:30317036.

  • Zhai J, Luwor RB, Ahmed N, Escalona R, Tan FH, Fong C, Ratcliffe J, Scoble JA, Drummond CJ, Tran N (2018) Paclitaxel-Loaded Self-Assembled Lipid Nanoparticles as Targeted Drug Delivery Systems for the Treatment of Aggressive Ovarian Cancer. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 1;10(30):25174-25185. doi: 10.1021/acsami.8b08125. Epub 2018 Jul 20. PubMed PMID: 29963859.

  • Escalona RM, Chan E, Kannourakis G, Findlay JK, Ahmed N (2018) The Many Facets of Metzincins and Their Endogenous Inhibitors: Perspectives on Ovarian Cancer Progression. Int J Mol Sci. 2;19(2). pii: E450. doi: 10.3390/ijms19020450. Review. PubMed PMID: 29393911; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5855672.

  • Samardzija C, Greening DW, Escalona R, Chen M, Bilandzic M, Luwor R, Kannourakis G, Findlay JK, Ahmed N (2017) Knockdown of stem cell regulator Oct4A in ovarian cancer reveals cellular reprogramming associated with key regulators of cytoskeleton-extracellular matrix remodelling. Sci Rep. 13;7:46312. doi: 10.1038/srep46312. PubMed PMID: 28406185.

  • Ahmed N, Greening D, Samardzija C, Escalona RM, Chen M, Findlay JK, Kannourakis G (2016) Unique proteome signature of post-chemotherapy ovarian cancer ascites-derived tumor cells. Sci Rep. 6:30061. doi: 10.1038/srep30061. PubMed PMID: 27470985; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4965858.

  • Latifi A, Escalona R, Quinn MA, Thompson EW, Findlay JK and Ahmed N (2014) Distinct molecular signature of recurrent ovarian tumor cells isolated from the ascites of advanced-stage serous ovarian cancer patients. Journal of Cancer Stem Cell Research 2:e1006.

  • Abubaker K, Luwor RB, Escalona R, McNally O, Quinn MA, Thompson EW, Findlay JK Ahmed N (2014) Targeted disruption of JAK2/STAT3 pathway in combination with systemic administration of paclitaxel inhibits the priming of ovarian cancer stem cells leading to a reduced tumor burden. Front Oncol 4:75.

  • Sarraj MA, Escalona RM, Western P, Findlay JK, Stenvers KL (2013) Effects of TGFβ2 on wild type and Tgfbr3 knockout mouse fetal testis. Biol Reprod. 88(3) 66, 1-13.

  • Sarraj MA, Escalona RM, Umbers A, Chua HK, Small C, Grisworld M, Loveland K, Findlay JK, Stenvers KL (2010) Fetal testis dysgenesis and compromised Leydig cell function in TGFBR3 (betaglycan) knockout mice. Biol Reprod. 82(1):153-62.

  • Escalona RM, Stenvers KL, Farnworth PG, Findlay JK and Ooi GT (2009) Reducing betaglycan expression by RNA interference (RNAi) attenuates inhibin bio-activity in LβT2 gonadotrope cells. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 307(1-2):149-156.