New York, NY (December 13, 2023) — This fall, The Skin Cancer Foundation awarded a combined total of $125,000 in grants to three early career investigators. The Foundation’s Research Grants Awards program has provided physicians and researchers with funding for studies that have led to lifesaving breakthroughs related to the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer. Since the program’s inception over 40 years ago, the Foundation has funded more than $2 million in research grants.
The Foundation accepts proposals from dermatology residents, fellows and faculty members within 10 years of their first academic appointment for one-year clinical studies conducted under the supervision of the dermatology departments of medical institutions in the United States.
Longtime Committee Chair David Polsky, MD, PhD, assembled a group of volunteer physicians to review the applications and discuss the merit of the work. (Committee members are selected each year based on the applicant pool, and the review process is managed to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.) This year, the committee selected three winners from 14 finalists.
“In 2023, as in previous years, we received many ideas and applications for well-designed research with robust techniques, cutting-edge technology and high translational value,” says Dr. Polsky. “The tough part was choosing only three, but with much passionate discussion, we reached a consensus on this year’s awards, and we look forward to seeing what these early career investigators will accomplish in the next few years.”
The Skin Cancer Foundation’s 2023 Awardees:
Goran Micevic, MD, PhD
Instructor of Dermatology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
Dr. Micevic received the $50,000 Ashley Trenner Research Grant Award for his proposal, “Elucidating and Enhancing Durable Immune Responses to Melanoma.” This project aims to identify the epigenetic drivers of durable responses to checkpoint therapy in melanoma, which is critical for preventing recurrence and developing improved melanoma therapies. Bob and Karen Trenner fund this research grant in honor of their daughter, Ashley Trenner, who passed away from melanoma.
Yuxuan Miao, PhD
Assistant Professor, The University of Chicago Ben May Department for Cancer Research
The Research Grants Committee awarded a second $50,000 grant, the Todd Nagel Memorial Research Grant Award, to Dr. Miao for his project: “Investigate the Roles of Skin Microbiota in Squamous Cell Carcinomas.” In squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, a group of highly plastic tumor-initiating stem cells orchestrates resistance to therapies. This project focuses on the skin microbiome as an unexpected tumor microenvironment module and studies its role in orchestrating immune resistance mechanisms protecting tumor-initiating stem cells. The award was funded in part by Linda Nagel, who organizes a charity golf event in Minnesota each year in memory of her late husband, Todd Nagel, who passed away from melanoma.
Riley McLean-Mandell, MD
Assistant Professor of Dermatology, UMass Chan Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts
Dr. McLean-Mandell received the $25,000 Dr. Marcia Robbins-Wilf Research Grant Award for her proposal, “Effect of Immunosuppression on Cutaneous Malignancies in Organ Transplant.” The incidence of multiple cutaneous malignancies in organ transplant recipients undergoing immunosuppression is significantly higher than that of the general population and is thought to be the result of immune deficiency within the skin. Dr. McLean-Mandell plans to conduct a study using noninvasive blistering to examine the dermatological immune components of immunosuppressed organ transplant recipients. The award was funded in part by Marcia Robbins-Wilf, EdD.
Past winners have included:
Awardee in 2018:
Anna Nichols, MD, PhD, is assistant professor in the Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. She is dedicated to serving patients at risk for multiple or aggressive nonmelanoma skin cancers and has done groundbreaking research on the viral pathogenesis of squamous cell carcinoma.
Awardee in 2016:
Today, Anthony Rossi, MD, is a dermatologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, known for his pioneering research with thousands of recovering cancer patients who have extremely sensitive skin. He discovered that combatting skin sensitization is a groundbreaking way to prevent and treat visible signs of premature aging.
Awardee in 2011:
Jedd Wolchok, MD, is now an internationally acclaimed medical oncologist whose innovations in immunotherapy revolutionized melanoma treatment. In 2022, he was named the Meyer Director of the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.
About The Skin Cancer Foundation:
The Skin Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, saves and improves lives by empowering people to take a proactive approach to daily sun protection and the early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The Foundation strives to decrease skin cancer incidence and mortality by delivering public education programs, providing patients with guidance and reassurance, engaging medical professionals, awarding research grants and leading advocacy campaigns that call for policy changes. Since its inception in 1979, the Foundation has recommended regular skin exams and following a complete sun protection strategy that includes seeking shade, daily sunscreen use and covering up with clothing, wide-brimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses. For more information, visit SkinCancer.org.
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