Explore This Lab

In the Media

December 2022: Researchers Identify the Hormone that Drives Fatigue After Cancer Radiation Therapy- Press Release

March 2022: Sun Exposure and Melanoma, Sun-Seeking, and Sun Protection: Fact and Fiction- Dermatology Times
March 2022:  Podcast: The Future of Melanoma Research | Futurized - thoughts on our emerging future

December 1, 2021: : Redheads really do have a stronger tolerance for pain than others -  Fox 8 News

August 2021: Researchers identify skin darkening enzyme that could help prevent skin cancers – Healio 
June 2021:  Several News Stories related to a study: Low Vitamin D linked to Opioid Addiction

Research Projects

Lessons for Malignancy from Normal Development

The Laboratory of David Fisher, MD, PhD, at Massachusetts General Hospital studies the biology of melanocytes as a means of identifying pathways that drive melanoma in man. This includes examination of mechanisms underlying growth/survival of benign moles, most of which contain mutations in either BRAF or N-Ras oncogenes. We also study melanocyte death in hair follicles, a process associated with hair graying. Pathways were identified that link graying to melanocyte and melanoma survival, offering potential leads for novel therapies. Other studies focus on pathways modulating melanocytic responses to environmental cues and employ oncogene-transformed melanocytic lines that exhibit growth factor independence, mimicking human melanoma in a genetically controlled manner.

Control of Life and Death in Melanoma

Malignant transformation of melanocytes produces one of the most treatment resistant malignancies in man. We have identified a transcriptional network that regulates melanoma cell survival and proliferation as well as melanocyte differentiation during development. Using diverse methods including mouse models, human tumor expression arrays and cellular assays, we examine mechanisms through which melanoma cells evade death, with the goal of improving therapy. Studies include preclinical and clinical analyses of novel melanoma treatments. We also study the role of UV in pigmentation responses and carcinogenesis, since this potentially offers novel approaches to skin cancer prevention.

MITF Transcription Factor Family in Development and Cancer

MITF is a helix-loop-helix factor homologous to Myc, whose mutation in man produces absence of melanocytes. MITF acts as a master regulator of melanocyte development and is targeted by several critical signaling pathways. Recently, members of the MITF family have been discovered as oncogenes in a variety of human malignancies, particularly sarcomas of childhood. Their roles in cancer as well as strategies to target them therapeutically are under active investigation. Detailed mechanistic studies focus on transcription factor interactions with chromatin, particularly positioned nucleosomes.

Lab Members

David E. Fisher, MD, PhD

(Charles) Hank Adelmann, PhD

Judith Boozer

Abdullah Al Emran, PhD

Tal Erlich, PhD

Jessica Flesher, PhD

Sharon Germana, MS (Lab Manager)

Jennifer Hsiao, PhD

Nhu Nguyen

Stephen Ostrowski, MD, PhD

Rony Shreberk Hassidim, MD

Shanivi Srikonda

Nicholas Theodosakis, MD

Max von Franque

Xunwei Wu, PhD



Complete List of Dr. Fisher's Published Works