MGH Research Scholars Program
The MGH Research Scholars Program was established to support early career researchers with innovative yet unproven ideas that have the potential to transform the future of medicine. Funded 100% through philanthropy, this program gives researchers the freedom and flexibility they need to follow the science wherever it leads. History has shown that brilliant scientists who are given free rein to explore new frontiers make the greatest, often unexpected, advances.
Developing and Testing New Combination Therapies and Treatment Strategies for Patients with Melanoma
Over the last decade, exciting new therapies such as immunotherapy and molecularly-targeted treatments—therapies that target molecules cancer cells need to survive and thrive—have become available for patients with melanoma.
Since the FDA approval of these agents, my laboratory has been studying clinical patterns of therapy response/resistance in real time, characterizing both the good (therapeutic benefit) and bad (side effects) of these drugs.
Additionally, the integration of systemic drug therapies with surgery to treat melonoma is an evolving area of research, allowing patients to receive drug treatments before or after surgery to decrease the risk of disease recurrence.
This also allows for patient-specific evaluation of responses to therapies by examining the pathologic response of the tumors to treatments given prior to surgery.
In my research group, we first utilize patient data to identify clinical patterns of disease and subsequently utilize a large biorepository of human tissue and blood samples to interrogate the biological mechanisms of these clinical observations.
These efforts have resulted in have multiple high-impact publications shedding light on the mechanisms of success and failure in these new therapies.
These new insights are also helping with personalized biomarker development and informing the next generation of combination clinical trials, with the goal of improving patient care and outcomes.