Charles Kaufman, MD, PhD - 2016 Young Investigator Award
"Epigenetic control of melanoma initiation"
Awarded a $75,000 Young Investigator Award
I am proposing to use a remarkable melanoma model in zebrafish using a florescent green protein to mark and characterize the first cells of melanoma at a level of detail not achievable in other settings and also to alter the timing of melanoma onset to teach us about the mechanisms that control its initiation. The zebrafish is a small, fast- growing, and highly fertile vertebrate organism that shares more than 70% of its genes and most major cell types and organ systems with humans. As a model system, the zebrafish will allow us to capture the first cells transitioning to melanoma and to study the earliest events in cancer onset. While a number of remarkable new treatments have recently become available for melanoma, these therapies very rarely cure patients whose disease has spread. If we better understood how melanoma begins at a molecular level, then we could detect these changes earlier when melanoma is curable with simple excision. Eventually, we could aim to interrupt this process with a drug, so the melanoma never gets started. The ultimate goal of this project is to allow doctors to detect and treat melanoma skin cancer at the earliest time possible.
"Thanks to the hard work, commitment, and compassion of scientists, researchers, and organizations like the Cancer Research Foundation, there is renewed hope for discovering better treatments and eventually a cure for cancer.
I commend all of you for your outstanding contributions to the field of cancer research. For five decades, your commitment to the crusade against cancer has given hope and comfort to people across the nation."
Former President of the United States
May 05, 1997