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The Society for Melanoma Research Newsletter Published By: The Society for Melanoma Research

Volume 28 | December 2017

Edited By: Marie Webster, Ph.D. & Ken Dutton-Regester, Ph.D.

Letter from the SMR President

SMR President | Keith T. Flaherty, M.D.

2017 was awe-inspiring year in melanoma science. The number of Nature, Science, Cell and New England Journal of Medicine papers continues at a high rate. Gratifyingly, the number of labs and clinical investigators contributing to these advances has continued to rise. We’ve seen this reflected in the impactful science being presented at each SMR Congress over the past several years.

As regular attendees of the SMR Congress are well aware, the breadth and depth of melanoma research has increased in a way that has allowed us to feature submitted abstracts as oral presentations in numbers that far exceed our historical precedent. With so many of the leading authors being postdoctoral fellows and PhD students, one gets the sense that the next generation of melanoma investigators has arrived. Coming out of the 2017 Congress, we are launching a new initiative to raise greater awareness of the promising, unpublished research being shared by post-docs and students. For those investigators who were selected for oral presentations or poster presenters receiving travel awards, we are extending an invitation for self-recorded summary presentations. We are excited about the opportunity that this provides us to broaden the audience beyond those who were able to attend the Congress as well as to promote the careers of our most junior melanoma scientists.

While we work to further develop our SMR electronic platform to create a year-round, dynamic forum for scientific exchange, we are also preparing for the 2018 SMR Congress, which will be held in Manchester, England from October 24rd - 27th . This meeting derives its energy from the abstracts submitted by our members and enthusiastic participation and interaction at the meeting itself. Please mark your calendars for these October dates and start thinking of what results will be ready to share as we open the abstract submission portal this summer.

Happy Holidays and looking forward to a productive 2018,

Keith Flaherty

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Melanoma News

Scientists, clinicians, and caregivers from around the world gathered in Brisbane, Australia in October for the 14th International Congress of the Society of Melanoma Research and the 9th World Congress of Melanoma.

Dr. Levi Garraway, an Associate Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School gave the Society for Melanoma Research Plenary Lecture on Thursday morning. He presented “Lessons from melanoma genomics for precision oncology”.

The 2017 Annual Awards were awarded on Thursday October 19th, at the Society for Melanoma Plenary Session. A heartfelt congratulations to the winners!

Dr. Julia Newton-Bishop from the University of Leeds was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Newton-Bishop is Professor of Dermatology and head of the Melanoma Group in the Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics based at St. James’ Hospital. In 1997 Dr. Newton-Bishop initiated and chaired the international GenoMEL (www.genomel.org) melanoma research consortium. She is also the Scientific Coordinator and chair of the MELGEN ETN consortium (www.melgen.org), which funds 17 PhD students at 7 centres across Europe in melanoma-based research projects. Her work has had significant impact on our understanding of how sun exposure increases melanoma risk, while still highlighting the fact that moderation is everything.

The Outstanding Research Award was presented to Dr. Richard Marais, Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute. Dr. Marais’ work has been critical in understanding multiple aspects of melanoma, from his early studies on the BRAF oncogene, to studies on how targeted therapies affect cellular metabolism and understanding the impact of UV on tumors with different mutational spectrums.

The Young Investigator Award was presented to Dr. Richard White from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Dr. White is a physician-scientist who holds a clinical appointment on the Gastrointestinal Oncology Service, and a research appointment in the Cancer Biology and Genetics Program where he studies the basic mechanisms of cancer metastasis using zebrafish as a model organism. His work has provided fundamental understanding of how melanomas metastasize, and his newest work on lipid metabolism in melanoma is opening new avenues for therapy.

The Estela Medrano Memorial Award was established in 2010 in memory of Estela Medrano. Estela was a leader in TGFb-related signaling in melanoma as well as senescence. She was also an active participant in SMR activities. The award is given to a scientist who has made major contributions in the fight against melanoma to fully honor her memory. This year the Estela Medrano Memorial Award was presented to Dr. Marisol Soengas from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre. Dr. Soengas leads the Melanoma Group at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncoló (CNIO), where her team focuses on translating basic research in melanoma to the clinic by identifying novel markers of this disease and targets for drug development.

Travel awards were given to 30 recipients this year from ten different countries.

Danial Constam (Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne), Megan Duggan (OSU Comprehensive Cancer Center), Robert Ellis (South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust), Peter Ferguson (Melanoma Institute Australia), Heinz Hammerlindl (University of Queensland), Tina Hieken (Mayo Clinic), Marina Juraleviciute (Melgen), Corinna Kosnopfel (University of Tuebingen), Rajiv Kumar (German Cancer Research Center), Rebecca Lee (Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute), Emily Leliott (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre), Jennifer McQuade (MD Anderson), Goran Micevic (Yale Medical School), Vigdis Nygaard (Melgen), Patrick Ott (Dana Farber Institute), Joan Anton Puig Butille (Hospital Clinic of Barcelona), Carla Robles-Espinoza (National Autonomous University of Mexico), Sabrina Schindler (University of Zurich Hosptital), Alexander Shoushtari (Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center), Lorey Smith (Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre), Lokeswari Tangella (Edith Cowan University), Jacqueline Turner (University of Colorado), Mijke Visser (Leiden University Medical Center), Dana Westphal (University Hospital Dresden), and Meri Rogava (University of Bonn).

The First Social SMR Bike Ride at the World Congress of Melanoma 2017

Written by: Ken Dutton-Regester

Hours before the international community of melanoma researchers convened at the World Congress of Melanoma, a small group of dedicated cycling enthusiasts braved the weather for the first social SMR bike ride. With uncharacteristic torrential rain in the lead up to the first day of the Congress, the event was almost considered a rain-check. However, a group of fifteen keen scientists/cyclists met at 5.45am in the Botanical Gardens to do a casual river loop and climb up Mt Cootha (approx. 50-60km and 260m elevation). While we were enthusiastic to see the view of the Brisbane city skyline from the top of the mountain (see bottom left picture), we were greeted with something a little less fantastic than what we had been promised (bottom right). Despite this, everyone had a great time catching up and meeting new people while we explored the local sights of Brisbane. Next year in Manchester, we hope to organize a similar event so keep an eye out in future SMR Newsletters for Expressions of Interest to join the ride (we may even be getting a route designed by a very recent SMR Outstanding Research Awardee).

For an overview of what happened at the Congress, check out the Twitter Moment: World Congress of Melanoma 2017; a collection of tweets from attendees of the meeting. Curated by @the_funkydr https://twitter.com/i/moments/943487114083106818

SMR Member News

Congratulations to Dr. Ashani Weeraratna (The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia) for her promotion to Ira Brind Professor; Co-Leader of Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis Program.

We want to hear from you! Please let us know if you or someone you know has received a grant, award, or promotion. We would like to share the news with the melanoma research community.

Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research News

Vijay Setaluri will become the new Editor-in-Chief for Pigment Cell and Melanoma Research from 2018 onwards. Also in 2018, PCMR is moving to an online journal only. PCMR in hard copy form will no longer be available.

News in a Nutshell:

In a new section of the Newsletter, we highlight tweets referencing recent publications and findings from SMR Members. If you have recently published or have an upcoming study, make sure to include @SocietyMelanoma in your Tweet and we will highlight it in the next SMR Newsletter.

Postdoctoral Scholar

UCSF, located at San Francisco, California, USA

There is an open position for a postdoctoral fellow to work in the laboratory of Dr. Hunter Shain within the Department of Dermatology at the University of California San Francisco.

https://shainlab.ucsf.edu/welcome-shain-laboratory

The candidate will utilize –omic approaches, such as DNA-sequencing, RNA-sequencing, and single-cell sequencing to better understand the biology of melanoma.

The most important criterion we are seeking is a strong record of scientific achievement, as evidenced, for example, by high-quality publications, presentations, and letters of recommendation. Prior research experience in the areas of melanoma or genomics will be also considered positively but is not absolutely necessary. Candidates must have a Ph.D., M.D., or equivalent advanced degree.

How to Apply

To be considered, please submit a cover letter and CV to Hunter Shain at Alan.Shain@ucsf.edu.

Funding Opportunities

1. The Melanoma Research Foundation's (MRF's) Request for Proposals (RFP) 2018 is now available. Applications for Career Development and Established Investigator Awards, as well as a new grant researching mucosal melanoma, will be accepted from January 2-March 1, 2018 through the Proposal Central web portal. Additional information is available on the MRF website, https://www.melanoma.org/research-center/research-grants/types-of-funding . Please note: the deadline for submission is March 1st, 2018 at 5pm ET.

2. *Reminder* The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) announces a Request for Proposals (RFP) soliciting high-impact pre-clinical, translational, and early clinical research from scientists and clinicians around the world. The RFP calls for ideas that have the potential to lead to near-term clinical application in melanoma prevention, detection, diagnosis, staging, and treatment.

January 9, 2018: Deadline for meritorious Team Science Award full-length proposals

Full descriptions of each award opportunity offered, including the just-announced Special Opportunity Award for European-led Teams, as well as eligibility criteria and instructions can be found here https://www.curemelanoma.org/research/request-for-proposals

Congratulations on a Year of Progress and Discoveries

Melanoma Meetings Around the World

  • MASCC/ISOO 2018 Annual Meeting on Supportive Care in Cancer, June 28-30, Vienna, Austria
  • Melanoma 2018: 28th Annual Cutaneous Malignancy Update, January 20-21, 2018, San Diego, CA
  • World Congress of Dermoscopy, June 14-16, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Melanoma Patient Conference, June 22-23
  • MASCC/ISOO 2018 Annual Meeting, June 28-30 Vienna
  • World Congress on Cancers of the Skin, August, 15-18 Sydney Austraila
  • ESMO 2018 Congress, October 19-23, Munich, Germany
  • Society for Melanoma Research October 24-27 2018, Manchester England

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