Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
College of Human Medicine

Risinger, John, PhD
Professor and Director - Division of Gynecologic Oncology



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John Ian Risinger received a BS degree in biology from Albright College, Reading PA a MS in biology from The University of Virginia, Charlottesville VA, and completed a PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Molecular Biology and Genetics. Following his PhD he was an intramural Scientist in the Laboratory of Biosystems and Cancer at the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda MD. Dr. Risinger accepted a distinguished cancer scholar position from the State of Georgia and became a Director of the Program of Women’s Cancers at the Curtis and Elizabeth Anderson Cancer Institute part of Memorial Health University Medical Center and an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Basic Medical Sciences at Mercer University, Savannah GA. He is currently tenured Professor and Director of Gynecologic Oncology Research in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology in the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University.

Dr. Risinger participates in graduate student training as part of the biomolecular sciences (BMS) gateway in the Genetics and Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) programs.


Risinger Lab


Risinger Lab Group Photo

Our research is focused on the underlying molecular defects that lead to, confer therapy resistance and contribute to the progression of endometrial and ovarian cancers.

Metastasis of endometrial cancer: Women with endometrial cancers that have metastasized have very poor outcomes as few effective chemotherapeutics exist for these cancers. Several research projects focus on important aspects of metastasis in this cancer.

  • Many endometrial cancers can be cured by surgery if disease is restricted to the uterine body. However, some metastases are not identified at time of surgery and become recurrent metastatic disease. Women with endometrial cancers that have metastasized have very poor outcomes as few effective chemotherapeutics exist for these cancers. We are developing metastasis prediction tools for endometrial cancer which may identify pre-operatively those cancers with occult metastasis and high risk for extra-uterine spread. We believe if these women are identified earlier in their clinical experience their prognosis will improve. Furthermore, we are exploring the functional roles of metastasis associated genes in cancer biology. These studies are done in collaboration with a Department of Defense National Gynecologic Cancer Translational Research Center of Excellence.
  • We are developing novel syngeneic models of endometrial cancer metastasis to aid our study of this critical process.
  • We are testing the role of Polymerase E mutation in endometrial cancers. Specifically, why cancers with this mutation rarely metastasize. Understanding this may guide our therapies for other endometrial cancer patients.

Chromatin remodeling genes: ARID1A and ARID1B are frequently mutated in endometrial cancers and in the less common endometrioid and clear cell ovarian cancer histotypes. These genes which function in chromatin remodeling contribute to the development of these cancers but mechanisms for their tumor suppressor functions remain unclear. Understanding how these genes function may lead to personalized therapies for women with these defects in their cancers.

  • We are examining the role of metabolism in ARID1A mutant cancers.
  • We are testing the role of ARID1A in regulating the polyamine pathway. We have found that ARID1A mutant endometrial and ovarian cancers are particularly sensitive to drugs that target this pathway. Studies are in collaboration with Dr. Bachmann in the Department of Pediatrics and Human Development.




Andrea Buras

Andrea Buras

Peter C. and Pat Cook Endowed Research Fellow

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Kumiko Shoji

Visiting Scholar

Alyssa Fedorko Photo

Alyssa Fedorko

MD PhD Candidate


Hong Im Kim

Hong Im Kim

Senior Researcher

Gerald Lilly

Gerald Lilly

Recipient of McIlnay Oncology Research Fellowship for Current CHM Medical Student