Grant Review Committee
The Grant Review Committee provides scientific merit-based peer review of research proposals submitted to MRA. The committee also advises MRA on other scientific matters as requested.
- Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D. - Chair
- Martin McMahon, Ph.D. - Co-Chair
- Andrew Aplin, Ph.D.
- Marcus Bosenberg, M.D., Ph.D.
- Steven Burakoff, M.D.
- Paul B. Chapman, M.D.
- Tanja de Gruijl, Ph.D.
- Charles G. Drake, M.D., Ph.D.
- David Fisher, M.D., Ph.D.
- Keith Flaherty, M.D.
- Thomas Gajewski M.D., Ph.D.
- Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D.
- Jeffrey Gershenwald, M.D.
- J. William Harbour, M.D.
- Meenhard Herlyn, D.V.M., D.Sc.
- Thomas J. Hornyak, M.D., Ph.D.
- Roger Lo, M.D., Ph.D.
- Michal Lotem, M.D.
- Kim Margolin, M.D.
- Grant McArthur, Ph.D.
- Glenn Merlino, Ph.D.
- Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D.
- Caroline Robert, M.D., Ph.D.
- Lynn Schuchter, M.D.
- Jonathan Simons, M.D.
- Craig Slingluff, M.D.
- David B. Solit, M.D.
- Alan Spatz, M.D.
- Hermann Steller, Ph.D.
- Susan M. Swetter, M.D.
- Suzanne Topalian, M.D.
- Jennifer Wargo, M.D.
- Jeffrey Weber, M.D., Ph.D.
Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D. - Chair
Professor of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D. is a Professor of Medicine, Surgery, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He 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) and the Chair of the Melanoma Committee at SWOG. Dr. Ribas is also 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). As a physician-scientist, Dr Ribas conducts laboratory and clinical research in malignant melanoma, focusing on adoptive cell transfer with T cell receptor (TCR) engineered lymphocytes, anti-CTLA4 antibodies, BRAF-targeted therapies and nanoparticle-siRNA.
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Cumming-Presidential Professor of Cancer Biology, Department of Dermatology & Senior Director for Preclinical Translation
Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah
Martin McMahon was awarded a Ph.D. from King’s College, University of London, for studies on the mechanism of interferon action. In 1985, he joined J. Michael Bishop’s laboratory in the Hooper Foundation of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) as a post-doctoral fellow to study oncogenic protein kinases. In 1991, he established an independent research group at the DNAX Research Institute (now Merck Research Labs, Palo Alto, CA) working on RAF protein kinases. In 1998, he was recruited to the faculty of the Cancer Research Institute of the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center where he served as the Efim Guzik Distinguished Professor of Cancer Biology, Co-Leader of the Experimental Therapeutics Program and Director for Professional Education. In 2015, he joined the faculty of the Department of Dermatology and the Huntsman Cancer Institute of the University of Utah, as the Cumming-Presidential Professor of Cancer Biology and the Senior Director for Preclinical Translation. For over ten years, the McMahon lab has developed genetically engineered mouse models of BRAF driven melanoma, lung, and thyroid cancer.
Andrew Aplin, Ph.D
Program Leader for Cancer Cell Biology and Signaling, Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University
Andrew Aplin is the Associate Director for Basic Science and the Program Leader for Cancer Cell Biology and Signaling in the NCI-designated, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center. His research elucidates mechanisms underlying aberrant growth and invasion in melanoma and the influence of the tumor microenvironment. In the past 13 years, his lab has identified downstream targets of mutant BRAF signaling and shown their contribution to malignant traits in melanoma. One focus is the role mutant BRAF regulated transcription factors. They have shown that BRAF-MEK-ERK1/2 signaling differentially regulates FOXD3 and TWIST1 and demonstrated the opposing roles of these transcription factors in melanoma invasion. Another area of focus is the determinants of response and mechanisms of resistance to RAF inhibitors in BRAF V600E melanomas. To facilitate these efforts, they have developed novel models to quantitatively measure ERK1/2 signaling in melanoma tumors in vivo. A third area is response and resistance to next generation RAF inhibitors, ERBB3 neutralizing antibodies and CDK4/6 inhibitors in different genetic subsets of melanoma. Through collaborations with clinicians on the Jefferson campus, he is extending his group’s studies into ocular melanoma. Aplin is a regular member of the NIH study section, Tumor Microenvironment (TME) and served as a Discussion Leader on NCI SPORE review panels. He is co-editor of Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research and serves on the editorial board of Cancer Research and Molecular Cancer Research.
Marcus Bosenberg, M.D., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Dermatology and Pathology, Yale School of Medicine
Marcus Bosenberg M.D., Ph.D., is a physician scientist who directs a leading melanoma research laboratory and is a practicing dermatopathologist at Yale Dermatopathology in the Yale Medical Group. In his research, Dr. Bosenberg studies the genetics and cellular changes that result in melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer deaths. His laboratory has developed several models in order to study how melanoma forms and progresses, to test new melanoma therapies, and how the immune system can be stimulated to fight melanoma. He attempts to translate basic scientific findings into improvements in melanoma diagnosis and therapy, including efforts to develop new drugs that inhibit epigenetic targets in melanoma. He is Co-Editor in Chief of Pigment & Melanoma Cell Research and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Investigation, an honor society for physician scientists. Dr. Bosenberg mentors undergraduate, graduate, medical, and MD-PhD students in his laboratory, teaches at Yale Medical School, and trains resident physicians, fellows, and postdoctoral fellows.
Steven Burakoff, M.D.
Director, Tisch Cancer Institute
Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology
Professor, Oncological Sciences
Mount Sinai School of Medicine
Steven Burakoff, M.D., is currently a Professor of Medicine, Hematology and Medical Oncology, Professor of Oncological Sciences, and the Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. A native New Yorker, he graduated from Lehigh University with a Bachelor of Science degree, received his Master's degree from Queens College, and his M.D. from Albany Medical College. Dr. Burakoff, who prior to his appointment in 2007 to Mount Sinai School of Medicine, was the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Professor at New York University School of Medicine, the Director of the New York University Cancer Institute, and the Director of the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine from 2000 to 2007. Prior to joining the New York University School of Medicine, in 2000, he was Chair of Pediatric Oncology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Margaret M. Dyson Professor of Pediatrics at the Harvard Medical School, and also received an Honorary Master's of Science Degree from Harvard University. He was the recipient of the first Harvard Medical School Excellence in Mentoring Award. He was also the Ted Williams Senior Investigator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and he also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Burakoff serves as a member of the External Advisory Committee at: the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Cancer Center, and the St. Jude's Cancer Center. Dr. Burakoff holds memberships in many professional societies and organizations, including: Alpha Omega Alpha, the American Society of Clinical Investigation, and the Association of American Physicians, and the American Association of Immunologist where he served as Secretary-Treasurer. He has been an Editor and Associate Editor for numerous journals and author of more than 300 publications in peer-reviewed journals. In 2009, Dr. Burakoff received the American Association of Immunologists Lifetime Achievement Award.
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Paul B. Chapman, M.D.
Associate Physician, Melanoma/Sarcoma service
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine, Weill Medical College of Cornell University
Dr. Chapman's focus of research is development of novel therapeutics and predictive assays for metastatic melanoma. He is leading early stage clinical trials with monoclonal antibodies as well as novel combinations of signaling pathway inhibitors and immune modulators. In addition to his contributions to the MRA, he is a member of the scientific advisory board of the Melanoma Research Foundation and the steering committee of Society of Melanoma Research. He received his MD from Cornell, completed a residency at the University of Chicago and a medical oncology fellowship at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
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Charles G. Drake, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Medical Oncology, Immunology and Urology
Director, Multidisciplinary Prostate Cancer Clinic
Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
The focus of Dr. Drake's research is to understand the T-cell response at the genetic and cellular level and to identify immune checkpoints which can be exploited for therapeutic advantage. His laboratory has shown that lymphocyte activating gene-3 (LAG-3) signaling is important in CD4+ regulatory T cell suppression of autoimmune responses, that PD-1 is an important immune checkpoint, and that STAT-3 plays a role in autoimmunity. Dr. Drake earned his M.D. degree from the University of Colorado Health Science Center and his Ph.D. from National Jewish Center for Immunology. He is Board Certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.
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David Fisher, M.D., Ph.D
Chief, Dermatology Service
Director, Melanoma Program, MGH Cancer Center
Director, Cutaneous Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital
David E. Fisher, MD, PhD is an internationally known researcher, clinician and academic, who is Chief of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts (USA). He also serves as Director of the MGH Cutaneous Biology Research Center and Director of the Melanoma Center at MGH. A Professor of Dermatology and of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Fisher came to the MGH from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, where he previously Directed the Melanoma Program. Dr. Fisher's research has focused on understanding the molecular and genetic events which 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 an accomplished concert cellist and received a degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. He received his PhD under Nobel Laureate Gunter Blobel at Rockefeller University and his Medical Degree at Cornell University Medical College under Dr. Henry Kunkel. Dr. Fisher's specialty training in Medicine, Pediatrics, and Oncology were carried out at Harvard Medical School. He recently served for three years as President of the Society for Melanoma Research, the largest international society dedicated to the study of melanoma.
Keith Flaherty, M.D.
Director, Henri and Belinda Termeer Center for Targeted Therapies
Richard Saltonstall Chair in Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center
Dr. Flaherty has authored or co-authored nearly 200 peer-reviewed primary research reports and review articles, with 37 additional chapters and solicited editorials. Principal among these are three, first-author publications in the New England Journal of Medicine describing the first-in-human clinical trial with the first selective BRAF inhibitor, PLX4032 (now known as vemurafenib), the phase III trial of trametinib (a MEK inhibitor) demonstrating improved progression-free and overall survival compared to conventional cytotoxic chemotherapy, and the phase I/randomized phase II trial demonstrating that combined BRAF/MEK inhibition substantially improves efficacy compared to BRAF inhibitor monotherapy. And, the definitive evidence of benefit of BRAF/MEK combination therapy was defined in the study published in Lancet for which Dr. Flaherty was senior author. These manuscripts define two quantum steps in the advancement of therapy for metastatic melanoma. Dr. Flaherty has co-authored an additional three New England Journal of Medicine manuscripts describing long-term survival benefit from vemurafenib, improved survival with vemurafenib compared to conventional chemotherapy, and the mechanism by which growth of cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas is triggered by vemurafenib and other BRAF inhibitors.
Thomas Gajewski M.D., Ph.D
Professor, Departments of Pathology and Medicine, University of Chicago
Director, Immunology and Cancer Program, University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Gajewski is a Professor of Pathology and Hematology/Oncology at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He investigates and develops new treatments for patients with melanoma, with a special interest in immunotherapy. Dr. Gajewski also leads development of immune-based therapies for other cancers, using new laboratory data on how the immune system is regulated to develop novel clinical trials. His clinical expertise includes biology therapy immunotherapy, epidemiology, immune system disorders, and melanoma. Dr. Gajewski serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Immunology and is on committees for the American Society for Clinical Oncology and the American Association for Cancer Research. He is a member of the American Society of Immunologists, the American Society of Hematology, and the International Society for the Biological Therapy of Cancer. Dr. Gajewski received his B.A. from the University of Chicago as well as his M.D./Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Pritzer School of Medicine.
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Associate Professor of Medicine, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Institute Member, Broad Institute
Dr. Garraway is the inaugural Director of the Joint Center for Cancer Precision Medicine (CCPM) at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Broad Institute. He is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an Institute Member of the Broad Institute, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.
Dr. Garraway is known worldwide for his contributions to cancer genetics, understanding cancer drug resistance, and cancer precision medicine. Regarding the latter, he described the first high-throughput adaptation of a genomic technology to profile human tumors for hundreds of “actionable” cancer gene mutations. This established tumor mutation profiling as a means to stratify cancer patients for optimal therapeutic choices and clinical trial enrollment. He also demonstrated the promise of massively parallel sequencing for clinical tumor genomic profiling. This research has inspired precision medicine initiatives at many cancer centers worldwide.
Dr. Garraway has been the recipient of several awards and honors, including the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the Jane Cooke Wright Award from the American Association for Cancer Research, the Block Award for outstanding cancer research from the Ohio State University, and an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute. He is President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation.
Dr. Garraway received his Bachelor of Arts in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard College and his Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy from Harvard Medical School. He completed his internship and residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and his fellowship training in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Jeffrey Gershenwald, M.D.
Professor, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Jeffrey E. Gershenwald, MD, FACS, is the Dr. John M. Skibber Professor of Surgery in the Department of Surgical Oncology and a Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (MD Anderson) in Houston, Texas. He is also the Medical Director of the MD Anderson Melanoma and Skin Center. Dr. Gershenwald received his M.D. from Cornell University Medical College, and after completing his general surgery residency at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center, he completed a fellowship in Surgical Oncology at MD Anderson before joining its faculty. In addition to his active surgical oncology practice focused on the care of patients with melanoma, Dr. Gershenwald's research focuses on integrated clinical-, pathological-, and molecular-based prognostic and predictive modeling in melanoma. He currently co-leads the inaugural MD Anderson Melanoma Moon Shot research program, an ambitious initiative that spans the melanoma continuum from public policy and prevention research initiatives to reduce ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure in youth to leveraging our understanding of the molecular and immune underpinnings of melanoma to improve treatment options for patients with early-stage and advanced melanoma. Dr. Gershenwald is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and its 8th edition Editorial Board, and Chair of its Melanoma Expert Panel. He serves as a member of the Surgical Oncology Board of the American Board of Surgery. Recently, Dr. Gershenwald co-led the melanoma project of The NIH-funded Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) program. He has published more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as more than 100 editorials, abstracts, invited articles, and other publications; for the past 13 years, Dr. Gershenwald has been listed in America’s Best Doctors.
Tanja de Gruijl, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Medical Oncology
VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam
Tanja de Gruijl heads the Dendritic Cell (DC) research group and tumor immunomonitoring unit of the Division of Immunotherapy at the VU University medical center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Dr. de Gruijl has co authored more than 60 research papers on (pre-)clinical tumor immunology topics. Her main line of research is the in vivo modulation of DC subsets for tumor immunotherapeutic purposes, through targeted gene transfer, small molecule inhibitors, and local cytokine administration. She is involved in pre-clinical studies on DC biology and in the monitoring of DC and T cell functions in prostate cancer and melanoma patients participating in clinical immunotherapy trials. She received her Master's degree in Medical Biology from the University of Utrecht, and her PhD from the VU University in Amsterdam.
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J. William Harbour, M.D.
J. William Harbour, M.D., a pioneering ocular oncologist and cancer researcher whose genetic discoveries are transforming the diagnosis and treatment of uveal melanoma and other eye cancers. He attended Johns Hopkins for medical school, Wills Eye Hospital for residency, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute for retina fellowship, University of California San Francisco for ocular oncology fellowship, and Washington University in St. Louis for post-doctoral cancer research training. He was on the faculty of Washington University for 16 years, rising to the rank of Distinguished Professor before being recruited to the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center of the University of Miami in 2012. He is now the Dr. Mark J. Daily Endowed Professor, Vice Chairman for Translational Research at Bascom Palmer and interim Associate Director for Basic Research at Sylvester. His research laboratory has been continuously funded for the past 20 years and uses methods in biochemistry, cell biology, genetics, epigenetics and genomics to understand the pathogenesis, identify biomarkers, and discover treatments for eye cancers. His discovery of mutations in BAP1 has triggered to an intense international interest in this tumor suppressor, and his group was the first to show that BAP1 mutations can be transmitted in the germline as part of the newly discovered BAP1 familial cancer syndrome.
Dr. Harbour’s lab developed a clinical prognostic test for uveal melanoma that is now the industry standard and is used for routine clinical testing at the vast majority of ocular oncology centers in North America. His group has discovered mutations in SF3B1, another important cancer gene in uveal melanoma that is associated with intermediate metastatic risk. Recently, the Harbour lab discovered yet another prognostic biomarker in uveal melanoma, aberrant expression of the proto-oncogene PRAME, which is associated with tumor progression, chromosomal instability and increased metastatic risk. Ongoing research efforts focus on the use of these discoveries as “companion prognostic” biomarkers that link high-risk patients to innovative new therapies based on their molecular profile.
Meenhard Herlyn, D.V.M., D.Sc.
Professor and Program Leader, Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis Program
Dr. Meenhard Herlyn has been a cancer researcher since his arrival at Wistar in 1976 and has participated in the Wistar Institute Cancer Center's leadership as a program leader since 1985. He is currently one of three program leaders of this Cancer Center's Program for Molecular and Cellular Oncogenesis and the Associate Director for Translational Research. His current research focuses on the biological significance of stem cells in skin morphogenesis and in transformation, invasion and metastasis, using a variety of in vivo and in vitro models. He has over 400 publications, 80% of which are in melanoma. Others are complementary, addressing basic biological mechanisms in cancer and wound healing. He is the PI of two P0-1s on melanoma, one of which has been fully funded since 1980 and of a SPORE. Dr. Herlyn is an active member of three graduate groups at the University of Pennsylvania: Cellular and Molecular Biology, Genomics and Computational Biology, and Bioengineering. He has been an independently funded investigator for 25 years, and has for the same time period participated each year in NCI study sections [with previous memberships in Pathology B (1996-2000) and Tumor Microenvironment, where he served as chair from 2004 to 2006]. He has also been active in the SPORE review program since 2007. He has received several awards including: the Wings of Hope, Melanoma Research Award and the Diana Ashby Award for Excellence in Melanoma Research in 2004, the American Skin Association Annual Skin Cancer/Melanoma Achievement Award in 2005, the Scientific Research Award for Outstanding Contributions in Melanoma Research, American Cancer Society, Southeast Region, Pennsylvania Division in 2006, and the Pan-American Pigment Cell Society Achievement Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Melanoma Research from the Society of Melanoma Research in 2007.
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Thomas J. Hornyak, M.D., Ph.D.
Chief of Dermatology, VA Maryland Health Care System
Associate Professor of Dermatology and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Dr. Hornyak obtained his A.B. in music from Princeton and his M.D. degree and Ph.D. degree in Biological Chemistry from The University of Michigan Medical School. He completed an internship in medicine at The New York Hospital - Cornell University Medical Center and a residency in dermatology at New York University Medical Center. In 1999, Dr. Hornyak joined the Department of Dermatology at the Henry Ford Health System as a staff member and independent investigator. He has received several NIH research grants and a New Investigator Award from the Department of Defense Neurofibromatosis Research Initiative. In 2003, Dr. Hornyak joined the Dermatology Branch, National Cancer Institute where he is a tenure-track investigator. His research focus is melanocyte developmental and stem cell biology and melanoma epigenetics.
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Roger Lo, M.D., Ph.D
Professor, Departments of Medicine & Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Lo earned his B.S. degree from Stanford University and M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Tri-institutional Cornell/Sloan-Kettering/Rockefeller MD-PhD Program (2003). He finished postdoctoral training at UCLA in 2008. Dr. Lo’s laboratory studies therapeutic resistance as a way to gain insights into patient-relevant melanoma biology.
Michal Lotem, M.D.
Head, Center for Melanoma and Cancer Immunotherapy
Sharett Institute of Oncology
Hadassah Hebrew University Medical Center
Dr. Lotem's research interests include using dendritic cells for MHC Class I and Class II presentation of tumor-derived antigens and CD4 and CD8 tumor reactive T cells for adoptive transfer strategies. She has received funding from the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation, Israel Cancer Association, The Horowitz Foundation, Chief Scientist Israel Ministry of Health, and the Cancer Treatment Research Foundation. Dr. Lotem earned her medical degree in 1983 from Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel. From 2002-2004, she was a research fellow in the surgery branch of the U.S. National Cancer Institute studying under Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg.
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Professor of Medicine, Stanford University
Affiliate Member, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center
Grant McArthur, Ph.D
Professor and Co-Chair, Melanoma and Skin Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Center
Professor Grant McArthur is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and holds a Ph.D. in Medical Biology. He has been appointed the inaugural Lorenzo Galli chair position in Melanoma, University of Melbourne, Co-Head Cancer Therapeutics and Practitioner Fellow NHMRC. In 2004 he was awarded the Translational Research Award of the Foundation Nelia et Amadeo Barletta and presented a plenary paper at the EORTC-NCI-ACCR Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics. In 2005 he was awarded the Sir Edward Dunlop Clinical Cancer Research Fellowship of the Cancer Council of Victoria. He is national and international study Co-Chair of a number of clinical trials of targeted therapies. His research Interests include clinical trials of targeted therapeutics, personalised medicine, melanoma, cell cycle control, and functional imaging. Professor McArthur is on the Editorial Boardfor melanoma at Annals of Oncology and sits on the editorial board of Anti-Cancer Drugs, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the Open Clinical Cancer Journal, Therapeutic Advances in Medical Oncology and the Journal of Personalised Medicine. He has had over 175 publications including senior or first author publications in the following journals: New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Lancet Oncology, Cancer Discovery, Cancer Cell, Nature, Cell Biology, Blood and EMBO.
Glenn Merlino, Ph.D.
Chief, Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics
National Cancer Institute, NIH
Dr. Merlino is currently Chief of the Laboratory of Cancer Biology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Merlino's career research contributions include advancements in 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 Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor gene in human cancer and was among the first to show that growth factors could function in vivo as oncogenes using transgenic mouse models. 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 the development and analysis of genetically engineered mouse 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 same model is being used to identify the molecular wiring of melanoma initiation by UV radiation, and to access the relative risks of exposure to UVA and UVB in sunlight. They also established the first relevant mouse model of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma, and identified Ezrin and its transcriptional regulator Six1 as key pro-metastasis factors in that pediatric malignancy. A current goal of the Merlino lab is to use genetically engineered mouse models to perform preclinical studies aimed at an examination of the role of cancer stem cells in drug resistant metastatic disease.
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Drew Pardoll, M.D., Ph.D
Professor of Oncology, Medicine, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics
John Hopkins University School of Medicine
Dr. Pardoll is an Abeloff Professor of Oncology, Medicine, Pathology and Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine. He is the Director of the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and Co-Director of the Cancer Immunology Program at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Pardoll attended Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his M.D., Ph.D., in 1982 and completed his Medical Residency and Oncology Fellowship in 1985. He then worked for three years at the National Institutes of Health as a Medical Staff Fellow. Dr. Pardoll joined the departments of oncology and medicine in 1988. Dr. Pardoll has published over 300 papers as well as over 20 book chapters on the subject of T cell immunology and cancer vaccines. He has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Cancer Cell, and has served as a member of scientific advisory boards for the Cancer Research Institute, the University of Pennsylvania Human Gene Therapy Gene Institute, Biologic Resources Branch of the National Cancer Institute, Harvard-Dana Farber Cancer Center, Cerus Corporation, Global Medical Products Corporation, Genencor Corporation, CellGenesys Corporation, Mojave Therapeutics, the American Association of Clinical Oncology and the American Association of Cancer Research. Dr. Pardoll has made a number of basic advances in Cellular Immunology, including the discovery of gamma - delta T cells, NKT cells and interferon-producing killer dendritic cells. Over the past two decades, Dr. Pardoll has studied molecular aspects of dendritic cell biology and immune regulation, particularly related to mechanisms by which cancer cells evade elimination by the immune system. He is an inventor of a number of immunotherapies, including GVAX cancer vaccines and Listeria monocytogenes based cancer vaccines. Dr. Pardoll’s basic immunology discoveries include the identification of -T cells, NKT cells and IKDC. He elucidated the role of Stat3 signaling in tumor immune evasion and in Th17 development, leading to the discovery that Stat3-driven Th17 responses promote carcinogenesis. Dr. Pardoll discovered one of the two ligands for the PD-1 inhibitory receptor and leads the Hopkins cancer immunology program that developed PD-1 pathway-targeted antibodies, demonstrating their clinical activity in multiple cancer types. His more than 300 articles cover cancer vaccines, gene therapies, cancer prevention technologies, recombinant immune modulatory agents for specific pathways that regulate immunity to cancer and infectious diseases.
Caroline Robert, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Dermatology, Head of the Dermatology Unit, Institute Gustave Roussy
Caroline Robert is Head of the Dermatology Unit at the Institut Gustave-Roussy, Paris, France. Dr Robert gained her medical degree at the Cochin Port-Royal School of Medicine, Paris, in 1990, after which she was made a faculty member of the graduate school of biological sciences and received her French Board Certification in Dermatology in 1992. On gaining her certification, Dr Robert was appointed Assistant Professor in Dermatology at the St-Louis Hospital, Paris. She completed a research fellowship at Harvard, US and a PhD in cancer immunology and immunotherapy. In 2000, Dr Robert returned to Europe as Medical Director for Johnson & Johnson Consumer Europe. In 2001, she took a position at the Institut Gustave-Roussy as Assistant in Dermatology, before becoming Head of the Dermatology Unit in 2005. She is board member for the European Association of Onco-Dermatology (EADO), melanoma board secretary for the European Organization for the Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC), a member of the European Association of Dermato-Venereology (EADV) and the French society of Dermatology and Venereology. Dr Robert is a scientist of international renown in the clinical and translational research of melanoma and the cutaneous side-effects of new targeted chemotherapies. She has authored more than 120 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, including a number of publications on new treatments for metastatic melanoma and been involved in numerous international clinical trials.
Lynn Schuchter, M.D.
C. Willard Robinson Professor of Hematology-Oncology
Attending Physician, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
Program Leader: Melanoma Program, Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Division Chief, Hematology-Oncology, University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Lynn Schuchter is the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine’s C. Willard Robinson Professor of Hematology/Oncology, she is the Chief of the Hematology/Oncology Division and Program Leader for the Abramson Cancer Center’s National Cancer Institute approved and funded Melanoma & Cutaneous Malignancies Research Program. Her research has focused on the development of new treatments for patients with melanoma in studies that have focused on immunotherapy and targeted approaches. Dr. Schuchter has utilized her senior administrative, clinical, and investigative leadership strengths and experiences at the University of Pennsylvania to foster translational research. She has extensive experience in melanoma translational research, and thus serves as an important link between basic scientists and clinical investigators. She is a recognized expert in the field of melanoma and an experienced investigator in the development and conduct of melanoma clinical trials. She has been the principal investigator of numerous phase I, phase II, and phase III melanoma clinical trials and widely published. She is CoPI of the Skin Cancer/Melanoma SPORE grant awarded to Penn and the Wistar Institute. She is the member of the scientific advisory committee for the Melanoma Research Association. She is the Chair of the Scientific Program Committee for the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting. Dr. Schuchter has a strong commitment to and passion for patient care and clinical research as well as teaching and mentoring young physicians and researchers.
Jonathan Simons, M.D.
CEO and President
David H. Koch Chair
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Dr. Simons is an internationally recognized physician-scientist, oncologist, and acclaimed investigator in translational prostate cancer research. Prior to joining the Prostate Cancer Foundation in 2007, he was distinguished Service Professor of Hematology and Oncology at the Emory University School of Medicine and Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Simons is the founding director of the Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University in Atlanta and Co-Director of the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence at Emory and Georgia Tech. Dr. Simons received a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.D. from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Before entering medical school he was a Rotary International Postgraduate Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, and a Nuffield Foundation Fellow in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Simons completed his residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School and his fellowship in medical oncology at Johns Hopkins. He is also board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology.
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Geoffrey Beene Chair
Director, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology
Attending Physician, Genitourinary Oncology Service
Member, Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program
Dr. Solit is a medical oncologist and laboratory scientist specializing in the treatment of many cancers using chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, or combinations of these drugs. He is involved with clinical trials, particularly trials of targeted drugs known as kinase inhibitors that block pathways inside cancer cells that cause the cells to grow or spread. Dr. Solit directs the Center for Molecular Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and leads a multidisciplinary team of clinicians, geneticists, bioinformaticians, and laboratory scientists.
Dr. Solit received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania, completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Barnes Hospital and a fellowship in medical hematology/oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.
Alan Spatz, M.D.
Professor, Jewish General Hospital/Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research
Strang Progessor and Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Rockefeller University
Dr. Steller’s laboratory studies the regulation of apoptosis (programmed cell death),
how defects in this process contribute to cancer, and how insights into apoptotic pathways can be exploited for the design of new cancer therapies. In the late 1980’s, Dr. Steller developed Drosophila as a model for cell death research. His laboratory discovered the first cell death genes in the fly, Reaper and Hid, and showed that they kill by stimulating the degradation of Inhibitor of Apoptosis (IAP) proteins, the major known caspase inhibitors. His studies also revealed that apoptotic cells are critical signaling centers for both proliferative and death signals. By extending this line of work to the mouse and human material, his laboratory demonstrated the critical role of these conserved pathways for the regulation of stem cell apoptosis, tumor suppression and wound healing.
Susan M. Swetter, M.D.
Professor of Dermatology
Director, Pigmented Lesion & Melanoma Program
Physician Leader, Cancer Care Program in Cutaneous Oncology Stanford University Medical Center & Cancer Institute
Susan M. Swetter, MD, is Professor of Dermatology and Director of the Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma Program at Stanford University Medical Center and Cancer Institute, as well as Physician Leader of the Cancer Care Program in Cutaneous Oncology. Dr Swetter received her BA with Distinction from the University of Virginia and her MD from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. She completed an internship in internal medicine at University of California San Francisco, followed by a residency and a chief residency in dermatology at Stanford University Medical Center. She joined the Stanford Dermatology faculty in 1994 and has directed the Pigmented Lesion and Melanoma Programs at Stanford and VA Palo Alto since 1995. Dr. Swetter’s research interests include primary and secondary prevention strategies in melanoma and clinical studies of melanoma epidemiology, prognostic factors, and chemoprevention. She serves on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Melanoma Panel and on the American Academy of Dermatology melanoma practice guidelines task force. She is the national dermatologist liaison to the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group’s Melanoma Committee and co-directs the Melanoma Prevention Working Group, a multi-center Intergroup collaboration dedicated to cancer control and melanoma prevention.
Suzanne Topalian, M.D.
Professor of Surgery and Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Director, Melanoma Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center
Dr. Topalian received her medical degree from the Tufts University School of Medicine and completed a general surgery residency at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. She was a research fellow and subsequently a Senior Investigator in the National Cancer Institute, NIH. She joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 2006 to direct the Melanoma Program in the Kimmel Cancer Center.
Dr. Topalian is a physician-scientist whose studies of human anti-tumor immunity have provided a foundation for the translational development of cancer vaccines, adoptive T cell transfer, and immunomodulatory monoclonal antibodies. Her current research focuses on manipulating immune checkpoints such as PD-1 in cancer therapy, and discovering biomarkers predicting clinical outcomes. Dr. Topalian was named one of Nature’s 10 in 2014, and received the Karnofsky Award from the American Society of Clinical Oncology in 2015. Her work has opened new avenues of scientific investigation in cancer immunology and immunotherapy, and has established this modality as a treatment approach in oncology.
Assistant Professor, Department of Surgical Oncology, Division of Surgery, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Deputy Director and Head, Experimental Therapeutics, Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center
Professor of Medicine at the NYU Langone Medical Center
Jeffrey Weber is a translational clinician-scientist and clinical trialist with an interest in Immuno-Oncology and the development of new treatment strategies for patients with melanoma. He has been funded by the National Cancer Institute with RO1 funding for over 20 years, and is the principal investigator of the Moffitt Skin SPORE, a large multi-project grant that is funded by the National Institutes of Health. He has sat on numerous study sections and has been instrumental in the development of the three immune oncology agents that have been approved by the FDA in the last 4 years: ipilimumab, nivolumab and pembrolizumab.
Dr. Weber was the first to show, and was the principal investigator of the first trial that demonstrated benefit for PD-1 blocking antibodies in melanoma patients that had failed ipilimumab. He was also the first investigator who demonstrated that PD-1 blocking antibodies had encouraging activity in resected melanoma patients and is the international principal investigator of the first adjuvant trial of PD-1 blocking antibody nivolumab in patients with surgically resected melanoma at high risk or resurrence. He maintains an active portfolio of clinical trials and runs a laboratory effort in which tumor and blood samples are analyzed for markers that are associated with benefit from novel immuno oncology agents.