The Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma Program seeks to generate new discoveries in molecular pathogenesis, tumor-host interactions, therapeutic interventions and in the influence of the environment on melanoma development.
The specific aims of the Program are to: 1) investigate the molecular pathogenesis of melanoma from discovery to clinical application, 2) explore tumor-host interactions as opportunities for therapeutic intervention and 3) investigate the unique influences of the environment on the development of melanoma. The Program is presented for the first time as an Established Research Program. It is comprised of 37 members from six DF/HCC institutions who have expertise in epidemiology, dermatology, oncology, dermatopathology, surgical oncology, radiation oncology, laboratory science, clinical trials and outcomes analyses. Members are engaged in molecular studies, developmental biology, genetics, melanoma immunology and molecular genetics. All share a common interest in the prevention and treatment of skin cancers and convene regularly through a clinical trials group, laboratory science meetings and annual Program retreats. DF/HCC provides the infrastructure needed to facilitate interdisciplinary, inter-institutional translational research and to facilitate inter-programmatic collaborations. Successes to date includes the identification of several key melanoma signaling pathways, genomic loci, oncogenes, and clinical strategies. The Program has produced a significant collection of publications covering multiple aspects of melanoma biology (244) during the project period of which 9% were intra-programmatic, 56% were inter-programmatic and 36% were inter-institutional manuscripts. In 2009, the Cutaneous Oncology and Melanoma Program had $9.2 million in peer-review funding, of which $5 million was from NCI.
Melanoma is ranked as one of the top ten deadliest cancers. Approximately 68,720 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with nearly 8,650 resulting in death. While death rates for most cancers are declining, the number of new cases of melanoma has continued to increase, with an estimated number of 68,720 new cases in 2009. Continued investigations into the mechanisms that initiate and drive the growth of skin cancers will ultimately result in the development of innovative new approaches for cancer treatment.
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