Melanoma Advisory Board

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Marcus W. Bosenberg, M.D., Ph.D.

Marcus W. Bosenberg is Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pathology at Yale University. He completed medical and graduate education at Cornell University and clinical training in pathology and dermatopathology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Bosenberg’s research interests are focused on the genetics and cell biology of melanoma progression and metastasis. He has developed a series of conditional inducible mouse models of melanoma that have clarified the synergistic effects of particular genetic changes in human melanoma. These models are also being utilized to study the sequential steps required for clinically evident metastasis and how the immune system can be stimulated to produce effective anti-tumor responses. Using these models, he has defined a distinct melanoma cell subset that is uniformly capable of forming tumors following injection of single purified cells and from cells that only rarely form tumors. He is interested in studying how cancer cell heterogeneity is maintained and how heterogeneity affects responses to therapeutic intervention. He is also attempting to identify novel combination therapies that are effective in particular genetic or phenotypic subsets of melanoma.

 

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David Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.

David E. Fisher, M.D., PhD is a researcher, clinician and academic, who is Chief of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. He also serves as director of the MGH Cutaneous Biology Research Center and director of the Melanoma Center at MGH. Dr. Fisher’s research has focused on understanding the molecular and genetic events that underlie formation of melanoma, as well as skin pigmentation. As a clinician, he has worked to translate these understandings into advances in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of human diseases related to the skin and associated disorders. A graduate of Swarthmore College with a degree in Biology and Chemistry, Dr. Fisher is also a concert cellist who received a degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. under Nobel Laureate Gunter Blobel at Rockefeller University and his Medical Degree at Cornell University Medical College. Dr. Fisher’s specialty training in medicine, pediatrics, and oncology were carried out at Harvard Medical School, followed by postdoctoral studies with Phillip Sharp at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research interests span examination of molecular events controlling mammalian gene expression and their integration into diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities focused on human disease.

 

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Keith Flaherty, M.D.

Dr. Flaherty received a B.S. from Yale University and medical degree from Johns Hopkins University. He trained in internal medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and completed a fellowship in medical oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the faculty in the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and member of the Developmental Therapeutics Program in the Abramson Cancer Center in 2002. In 2009, Dr. Flaherty moved to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School to serve as Director of Developmental Therapeutics for the MGH Cancer Center. He was awarded a K23 grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to investigate the inhibition of angiogenesis with targeted therapy combinations in melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. In addition to being principal investigator of numerous first-in-human clinical trials with novel targeted therapies, he is the principal investigator of two national, cooperative group trials: E2603, a phase III trial comparing sorafenib, carboplatin, and paclitaxel to carboplatin and paclitaxel alone in patients with metastatic melanoma, and E2804, a randomized phase II trial comparing combinations of anti-angiogenic agents in metastatic renal cell carcinoma. He served as principal investigator for the first-in-human clinical trials of the first prospectively developed selective BRAF inhibitors, RAF265 and PLX4032. PLX4032 has emerged as the most active single-agent therapy ever evaluated in metastatic melanoma patients and is rapidly being tested in a phase III trial of which Dr. Flaherty serves as co-principal investigator. He is internationally known for expertise in clinical and translational research directed against signal transduction pathways in melanoma.

 

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Jeffrey E. Gershenwald, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Dr. Gershenwald is Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgical Oncology and Professor, Department of Cancer Biology at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC) in Houston, Texas. Dr. Gershenwald received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College. After completing his general surgery residency at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, Dr. Gershenwald completed a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at MDACC before joining the faculty there. Dr. Gershenwald holds numerous academic administrative appointments, including serving as vice-chair of the Melanoma Committee of the American Joint Committee for Cancer (AJCC) and on the Executive Council for the Society of Surgical Oncology. He is also a co-director of the Melanoma SPORE and co-director of the Melanoma Informatics, Tissue Resource, and Pathology Core, both at MDACC. Dr. Gershenwald’s research focuses on prognostic assessment in melanoma and molecular mechanisms of melanoma progression. Most recently, Dr. Gershenwald has been a founding member and co-chair of the Melanoma Disease Working Group of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project. Dr. Gershenwald has published more than 130 articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as more than 100 editorials, abstracts, invited articles, and other publications. His many honors include the Physician-Scientist Program Award from MDACC, an American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant Award to examine the “Biology and Significance of Melanoma Lymphatic Metastasis” and, for the past 8 years, Dr. Gershenwald has been listed in America’s Best Doctors.

 

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Meenhard Herlyn, D.V.M., D.Sc.

Dr. Herlyn is Professor and Chair, Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is also the associated director for Translational Research in the Cancer Center and director of the Melanoma Research Center. He has been a cancer researcher since his arrival at The Wistar Institute in 1976 and has worked in melanoma research since 1977. His research focuses on the biological significance of growth factors and adhesion molecules in skin morphogenesis; transformation to melanoma; and melanoma growth, invasion, and metastasis, using a variety of in vitro and in vivo models. He wants to know how a nevus develops in normal skin, when it becomes high risk for malignant transformation, and when and why dormant melanoma cells become activated, invading deep into the skin and spreading throughout the body. In recent years, his laboratory has expanded to research on stem cells and their role in skin and skin disease development. A major part of the laboratory is pursuing therapeutic strategies that take into account the genetic and biologic signatures of melanomas. Dr. Herlyn has over 400 publications, 90% of which are on melanoma, with the others on basic biological mechanisms in cancer.

 

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Harriet Kluger, M.D.

Dr. Kluger was born in South Africa and emigrated to Israel, where she obtained her M.D. from Tel Aviv University, graduating in 1993. Dr. Kluger completed her training in internal medicine in the United States and is board certified in medical oncology. She has been at Yale University since 1999, where she did her fellowship, and is currently an associate professor of medicine. Abundantly published for being so early in her medical academic career, she has served on multiple study sections and has received substantial grant support for the study of melanoma and renal cell carcinoma. Dr. Kluger is currently designated an American Cancer Society Research Scholar. With three sons who are all passionate about soccer, she spends a lot of time at games, where she has developed productive collaborations with other investigators on the sidelines. Her current research interests focus on predictive biomarker development and early drug development for patients with melanoma and renal cell carcinoma.

 

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Glenn Merlino, Ph.D.

Dr. Merlino’s career research contributions include the areas of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling, oncogenic transformation, transcriptional regulation, cell cycle regulation, multiple drug resistance, and genomic instability. Dr. Merlino was the first to report the amplification/rearrangement of the EGFR gene in human cancer and was among the first to show that growth factors could function in vivo as oncogenes using transgenic mouse models. Currently, Dr. Merlino and his colleagues in the Cancer Modeling Section are seeking to elucidate the complex molecular/genetic programs governing melanoma genesis and progression through development and analysis of genetically engineered mouse (GEM) models of human cancer. Using a novel mouse melanoma model, Dr. Merlino provided the first experimental evidence supporting the notion that childhood sunburn is a critical melanoma risk factor. This model is being used to identify the molecular wiring of melanoma initiation by ultravoilet (UV) radiation and to access the relative risks of exposure to UVA and UVB in sunlight. A translational goal is to use GEM models for preclinical studies aimed at studying residual metastatic disease and its resistance to therapeutics.

 

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Katherine L. Nathanson, M.D.

Dr. Nathanson received her B.S. in Biology with Honors from Haverford College and her M.D. from The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She then trained in internal medicine at the Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, and did a fellowship in Genetics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. She is doubly boarded in Internal Medicine and Genetics. She completed her postdoctoral laboratory training with Dr. Barbara Weber in the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, focusing on breast cancer genetics. Dr. Nathanson has had a long-standing interest in the genetics of breast cancer. Her studies in breast cancer have focused on characterizing BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in different patient populations; identifying genetic modifiers of penetrance in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers; examining both candidate modifiers of penetrance; and using linkage-based methods to identify novel modifiers of penetrance. Dr. Nathanson’s current efforts continue these studies and have expanded to include characterization of breast cancer on a genomic level to identify both somatic and germline genetic changes important in breast cancer.

 

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David Polsky, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Polsky received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, completed his medical internship at Montefiore Medical Center, his dermatology training at New York University (NYU), and a postdoctoral fellowship in Molecular Pathology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. Polsky is currently a full-time physician-scientist at NYU, with his research laboratory, clinical practice, and teaching activities focused on melanoma and atypical nevi. He is currently Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pathology, director of the Pigmented Lesion Clinic, director of the Melanoma/Skin Cancer Screening Program at NYU, and director of the Dermatology Residency Training Program, the largest dermatology training program in the U.S. Dr. Polsky has been invited to speak at many national and international medical and scientific meetings and has published numerous manuscripts and book chapters in top ranked medical and scientific journals such as Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and Journal of the American Medical Association. Dr. Polsky’s laboratory is focused on deregulation of growth control pathways in melanoma tumors and identifying inherited genetic variations that increase an individual’s risk for developing melanoma. The overall goal of his research is to translate the knowledge gained into new tools for melanoma risk assessment, prognosis, and therapy.

 

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Antoni Ribas, M.D.

Dr. Ribas is Associate Professor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He was trained at the University of Barcelona, Spain, with postdoctoral research and clinical fellowship at UCLA. He is the director of the Tumor Immunology Program at the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC), a permanent committee member of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) grant review panels, and an elected member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI). Dr. Ribas is a physician-scientist conducting laboratory and clinical research focused in malignant melanoma, including adoptive cell transfer with T cell receptor (TCR)-engineered lymphocytes, anti-CTLA4 antibodies, targeted therapies for melanoma oncogenes, and nanoparticle-siRNA.

 

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Lynn M. Schuchter, M.D.

Dr. Schuchter, is a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and chief of the Division of Hematology and Oncology in the Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Schuchter has been on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania since 1989 after completing her medical oncology training at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Schuchter is a recognized expert in the field of melanoma and an experienced investigator in the development and conduct of melanoma clinical trials. She has extensive experience in melanoma translational research, and thus serves as an important link between basic scientists and clinical investigators. She the leader of the Melanoma and Cutaneous Malignancies Program at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. She has been the principal investigator of numerous phase I, phase II, and phase III melanoma clinical trials. She is on the board of the Melanoma Research Foundation, where she is also the co- chair of the scientific advisory committee. The Melanoma Research Foundation is a nationwide organization that is the largest advocacy group for this disease. She also serves on the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Board of Directors and is the editor of the melanoma section for ASCO’s Cancer.net. Dr. Schuchter has authored numerous articles and book chapters on melanoma. As a clinician caring for patients with all stages of melanoma, she is dedicated to the development of new therapies for patients with melanoma.

 

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Jedd Wolchok, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Wolchok is an assistant attending physician at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) with expertise in the treatment of metastatic melanoma. His specific area research interest is the preclinical and early clinical development of novel immunologic therapies. Most recently, Dr. Wolchok has initiated several clinical trials using plasmid DNA vaccines for patients with melanoma. He has been involved in the development of the DNA vaccine program at every level—from initial studies in mouse models, through all levels of regulatory review, and now as Principal Investigator of the clinical trials. Dr. Wolchok has authored numerous articles concerning DNA vaccines, cytokine biology, and clinical care of melanoma, and coauthored two chapters in the definitive textbook, Cutaneous Melanoma. Dr. Wolchok is also coeditor of the journal Cytotherapy. Most recently, Dr. Wolchok was appointed to be Associate Director of the Ludwig Center for Cancer Immunotherapy at MSKCC.