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UNC School of Medicine’s fourth-year medical student Salma El-Behaedi received two national fellowships to support her research in skin cancer melanoma.

UNC School of Medicine’s fourth-year MD candidate Salma El-Behaedi was recently a recipient of the national fellowship — the Craig P. Merkel and James K. Saunders Memorial Award through the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) to support her research in gaining a better understanding of the frequency by which childhood cancer survivors develop the skin cancer – melanoma. MRF research grants support the study of melanoma prevention, diagnosis, and treatment across the spectrum of the disease, including cutaneous, ocular, and mucosal melanoma. El-Behaedi will be conducting a study to review the charts of hundreds of patients who are now childhood cancer survivors, with the goal to offer future patients better monitoring plans to hopefully guide future surveillance and prevention strategies of the disease.

El-Behaedi is also a recipient of the Gertrude B. Elion Mentored Medical Student Research Award through the Triangle Community Foundation. The competitive $10,000 award supports women medical students each year, like El-Behaedi, who are interested in pursuing health-related research projects. El-Behaedi is working with UNC Department of Dermatology chair Nancy Thomas, MD, PhD, on studying the varying morphologies by which melanoma recurrences occur in hopes that physicians may more quickly recognize recurrence at a time that is still amenable to treatment. This award will provide support for the enrichment of El-Behaedi in all capacities including research supplies and conference attendance. It also serves as one more step for her to realize her aspirations of becoming a physician-scientist in the field of oncologic dermatology.