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The National Cancer Institute awarded UNC Lineberger researcher Nancy E. Thomas, MD, PhD and collaborators a five-year, $4.6-million grant to study the identification of lethal melanomas at the time of diagnosis.

The National Cancer Institute has awarded UNC Lineberger’s Nancy E. Thomas, MD, PhD, and her collaborators at University of North Carolina, Memorial Sloan Kettering, University of New Mexico, and University of California at Irvine a $4.6-million grant to study the Identification of Lethal Melanomas at the Time of Diagnosis.

Melanoma is an aggressive malignancy with high metastatic propensity that can be life-threatening for certain patients. The plan is to evaluate the genetic and immune alterations in tumor samples and host characteristics associated with a high risk of melanoma lethality. The goal is to identify at the time of diagnosis which melanomas are the dangerous, potentially lethal ones that should be treated early and, conversely, which melanomas are very unlikely to lead to recurrence and death, potentially sparing these patients toxic and expensive treatments.

The work will be done in the labs of Nancy Thomas, chair of the UNC Department of Dermatology and the Irene and Robert Alan Briggaman Distinguished Professor, and Kathleen Conway-Dorsey, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a UNC Lineberger member.

Other UNC collaborators are Paul Googe, MD, professor of dermatology and pathology and laboratory Medicine, David Ollila, MD, professor of surgery, Joel Parker, PhD, associate professor of genetics, and Nana Nikolaishvili-Feinberg, PhD, director of the Translational Pathology Laboratory. Lab members instrumental to the research are Sharon Edmiston, Eloise Parrish, and Honglin Hao. Ollila and Parker are UNC Lineberger members.