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

Volume 29 | May 2018

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

Letter from the SMR President

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

Dear SMR Members,

With Richard Marais as program committee chair, we have been busy organizing the agenda for the 2018 SMR Congress in Manchester, UK. As in prior years, the leaders of the melanoma field have enthusiastically agreed to give talks in cutting edge areas of research. And, we have enumerated the topics for plenary and parallel sessions. These sessions will all feature presentation of multiple submitted abstracts. So, please start thinking of which projects are reaching the point of maturity for abstract submission by the deadline for the regular and late-breaking deadlines. We look forward to sharing and deliberating on new data that will shape each of our research strategies.

Keith Flaherty

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The Society for Melanoma Research is seeking individuals interested in serving in leadership roles for the Society. Elections will be held in the fall of 2018 for the following positions:

Vice President /President Elect – This individual will serve a 6-year term; two as Vice President/President Elect, two as President and two as Immediate Past President.

Secretary- This individual serves a two-year term.

Steering Committee- These individuals can serve up to two consecutive three-year terms.

If you are interested in being considered for one of these positions have questions about serving or have someone to recommend for consideration of the nominating committee please email our Association Manager, Debra Marshall debra@sswmeetings.com.

Melanoma News

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Richard Marais has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Richard joins many of the world’s most eminent scientists in the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. It is a tremendous honour given for his exceptional contributions to science, and it is a very proud moment for Richard, the CRUK Manchester Institute and for the SMR.

CRUK MI Deputy Director Caroline Dive commented "This honour reflects his tremendous scientific contribution to cancer research over his career and is a truly deserved and wonderful achievement”.

New fellows are formally admitted to the Society at the Admissions Day ceremony in July, when they sign the Charter Book and the Obligation of the Fellows of the Royal Society. Richard remarked "I am humbled to be invited to add my name to the same book as many of the greatest scientists the world has known. I am delighted to have been honoured in this way.”

I am sure you will all want to join us in congratulating Richard Marais FRS!



On Tuesday, June 26, The Wistar Institute will host a free scientific symposium “The Noreen O’Neill Melanoma Research Symposium – Host Response in Melanoma” from 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The past decade has seen tremendous advances in the treatment of melanoma with next generation approaches like targeted therapies, immunotherapies and combination therapies that have changed the disease outcome for many patients. Despite the success of these varied strategies, the onset of drug resistance, or failure to respond to therapies at all remains a problem for the majority of patients. How the host and tumor microenvironment play a role in the success of failure of these therapies is an important area of study.

SMR Member News

Congratulations to Dr. Andrew E. Aplin (Thomas Jefferson University) for being awarded the Kalbach-Newton Professorship in Cancer Research.

Congratulations to Dr. Ashani T. Weeraratna (The Wistar Institute) for her promotion full Professor.

Congratulations to Dr. Eleonora Leucci (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Mentor: Jean-Christophe Marine) for receiving the Amanda and Jonathan Eilian-MRA Young Investigator Award for her project entitled “LncRNAs as modulators of protein synthesis rewiring in melanoma”.

Congratulations to Dr. Nikhil Joshi (Yale University, Mentor: Marcus Bosenberg) for receiving The Sokiloff Family-MRA Young Investigator Award for his project entitled “Investigating the mechanistic basis for tumor immunogenicity in melanoma”.

Congratulations to Dr. Weigi Peng (University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Mentor: Patrick Hwu) for receiving the MRA Young Investigator Award, collaboratively funded by University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, for her project entitled “Isoform-specific targeting of the PI3Ks to Overcome Cancer Immunoresistance”.

Congratulations to Dr. A. Hunter Shain (The University of California, San Francisco, Mentor: Boris Bastian) for receiving the Tara Miller Melanoma Foundation-MRA Young Investigator Award for his project entitled “The genomic landscape of individual melanocytes from human skin”.

Congratulations to Dr. Roberto Tinoco (Sanford Burnaham Prebys Medical Discovery Instiute, Mentor: Ze’ev Ronai) for receiving The Denise and Michael Kellen Foundation-MRA Young Invesstigator Award for his project entitled “Targeting PSGL-a inhibitor pathways to promote anti-tumor T cell immunity”.

Congratulations to Dr. Lixin Wan (H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, Mentor: Kieran Smalley) for receiving the Mary Jo and Brian Rogers-MRA Young Investigator Award for his project entitled “Targeting the JNK-ITCH signaling pathway in melanoma”.

Congratulations to Dr. Melissa Wilson (New York University School of Medicine, Mentor: Jeffrey Weber) for receiving the Julie and Edward Minskoff-MRA Young Investigator Award, collaboratively funded by New York University School of Medicine, for her project entitled “Targeting BRAF//NRAS wildtype melanoma with ERBB3 and MEK inhibition”.

Congratulations to Dr. Andrew Aplin (Thomas Jefferson University), Dr. Emily Bernstein (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai), Dr. J. William Harbour (Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center/University of Miami Health Systems), and Dr. Marlana Orloff (Young Investigator, Thomas Jefferson University) for receiving the Helman Family-MRA Team Science Award for their project entitled “Targeting BAP1-dependent alterations in metastatic uveal melanoma”.

Congratulations to Dr. Gavin P. Robertson (The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine), Dr. Jiyue Zhu (Washington State University), Dr. De Cheng (Young Investigator, Washington State University), Dr. Shobhan Gaddameedhi (Young Investigator, Washington State University), Dr. Raghavendra Gowda (Young Investigator, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine) for receiving a Melanoma Research Alliance Team Science Award for their project entitled “Regulating telomerase & telomere homeostasis in acral melanoma development”.

Congratulations to Dr. Nicholas Hayward (QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute), Dr. Francisca Vasquez (Broad Institute), and Dr. Ken Dutton-Regester (Young Investigator, Queensland Institute of Medical Research) for receiving the MRA Team Science Award for their project entitled “Identifying genetic dependencies in rare forms of melanoma”.

Congratulations to Dr. Eva Hernando (New York University School of Medicine), Dr. Ernesto Guccione (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai), and Dr. Melissa Wilson (Edward and Julie Miskoff Young Investigator, New York University School of Medicine) for receiving the Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma-MRA Team Science Award for their project entitled “Prognostic and functional role of altered circular RNAs in melanoma”.

Congratulations to Dr. Lorenzo Cohen (University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center), Dr. Jennifer Wargo (University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center), and Dr. Jennifer Leigh McQuade (University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for receiving the MRA Team Science Award collaboratively funded by University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for their project entitled “Diet, Mental health, and the microbiome in response to immunotherapy”.

Congratulations to Dr. Thomas Gajewski (The University of Chicago), Dr. Jason Luke (The University of Chicago), Dr. Cathyrn Nagler (The University of Chicago), and Dr. Riye Bao (Young Investigator, The University of Chicago) for receiving the MRA Team Science Award, collaboratively funded by The University of Chicago for their project entitled “Commensal microbiota and Anti-PD-1 efficacy”.

Congratulations to Dr. Keiran Smalley (H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute), Dr. Yian Chen ((H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute), Dr. John Koomen ((H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute), Dr. Jane Messina (H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute), Dr. Jamie Teer (H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute), and Dr. Florian Karreth (Young Investigator, H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute) for receiving the U.S. Trust-MRA Science Award entitled ‘Defining and targeting driver events in acral melanoma.

Dr. Jessamy Tiffen and Dr. Stuart Gallagher from the Centenary Institute in Sydney have been awarded a grant from Cancer Council NSW, aimed at improving drug treatment for melanoma. The 3-year project will investigate a class of epigenetic regulators known as BET proteins which are highly expressed in melanoma and activate oncogenic pathways. New drugs can inhibit the BET proteins and previous work by the investigators (some published in PCMR) has shown they can kill some melanomas and have cytokine modulating activity. This project will build on the existing knowledge of how these drugs work in melanoma and aims to comprehensively investigate how these drugs can best be used to treat melanoma.

Nominations are now being accepted for the Annual Society for Melanoma Research Congress in Manchester, England. Please submit nominations for one of the following awards:

Lifetime Achievement

Young Investigator

Outstanding Research Award

The Deadline to submit a nomination is Friday, June 15, 2018.

Call of Interest for the 2nd SMR Social Bike Ride

Last year at the SMR Congress in Australia, a group of 15 SMR members cycled up Mt. Cootha and did a loop of the Brisbane River. While the weather was unusually wet, the ride was fantastic and was enjoyed by all. This year we are exploring if members are interested for a similar ride, this time in Manchester! (I guess we won’t expect much better weather than we had in Brisbane?). If you're keen, register your interest by emailing Ken at: ken.dutton-regester@qimrberghofer.edu.au

Updates relevant to ECR’s from the AACR 2018 Annual Meeting in Chicago

Written By: Ken Dutton-Regester

Picture description: @the_funkydr shows us you can have fun while wearing cat themed attire at an International meeting (5km Fun-Run) and become friends with the AACR President (Dr. Elizabeth Jaffee), all while having your serious podium face on!

This year as chairperson of the Associate Member Council of the AACR, I had a pretty full schedule helping to curate the professional development opportunities for Associate Members at the Meeting (associate members are PhD, postdocs, medical students, physician-in-training). Although I didn’t get the chance to see a lot of the science, I can guarantee you there was a lot on offer for Early Career Researchers (ECR) in regards to advice in advancing your career. Here I summarize the highlights and how to get more information.

This year the AACR had two in-depth sessions on different aspects of career transitioning. These sessions were incredibly enlightening and packed full of useful information. The ‘Getting Hired!’ session was focused on industry and non-academic job hunts and covered how to format your CV/ resume for the position to which you apply (Tak Mak), how to ace a job interview (Edith Perez), and how to negotiate a job offer (Anees Chagpar). For those who are more academic-trajectory inclined, the ‘Logistics of Starting a Laboratory’ session covered finances and budgeting for starting PI’s (Jeffrey Mackeigan), recruitment and management of personnel (Cory Abate-Shen), and time management strategies (Aime Franco). Note that both of these sessions were recorded (audio) and can be accessed via the AACR Webcast page (http://webcast.aacr.org/portal). Search terms: 2018, Associate Member Council. However, note that these are currently not available but will be released soon.

If you’re keen to grasp your hands on some useful info now, we also ran some informal career discussions on how to find the right postdoctoral position and the role of social media in your cancer research. Bite-sized Tweet threads from my account summarizing the key points of each speaker on different topics are below:

How to find the right Postdoctoral Position: https://twitter.com/the_funkydr/status/986625018590367749

The role of Social Media in your Cancer Research: https://twitter.com/the_funkydr/status/986286157322510336

In news relevant to all SMR members currently in training, in celebration of 30 years of the Associate Membership category, the AACR has made it FREE to become an Associate member. That’s right, it doesn’t cost any money to become a member of the AACR. Why is this great news? Well becoming a member allows you access to funding opportunities and awards, amongst other benefits such as reduced meeting registration fees and more. To become an Associate member and for more details: http://www.aacr.org/Membership/Pages/associate-membership___C27D6E.aspx#.Ww_xd0iFNPY

Lastly, if you are interested in the breaking science that was presented at the AACR, you can access a number of recorded plenary and keynote sessions via the AACR webcast (some free, some require membership- which I said above is free!). Again, you can access that here: http://webcast.aacr.org/portal). Until next year!

Postdoctoral Position in São Paulo, Brazil

A postdoctoral opportunity is available for the Thematic Project “Melanoma and B-raf resistance: MODELS IN VITRO AND IN SILICO TO EXPLORE THERAPEUTIC TARGETS", coordinated by Dr. Silvya Stuchi Maria-Engler. The registration deadline ends on June 15th, 2018.

The aim of this project is to study the resistance to B-raf inhibitors in metastatic melanoma in order to explore how factors involved in this phenomenon can modulate the tumor response. To do this, we will explore the complexity of the microenvironment and tumor heterogeneity, the melanoma invasion process and differences in oxidative metabolism during its progression.

It is required previous research experience in the field of cell and molecular biology, human cell culture, fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry and, above all, in detection of reactive oxygen species techniques, experience in biochemical redox processes and oxidative metabolism. Besides, the candidate must have prior relevant publications as the first author in the field.

The application must be made by e-mail to the project supervisor Silvya Stuchi Maria-Engler (silvya@usp.br). In addition to the e-mail, a curriculum vitae must be attached, a document proving that the candidate holds a doctor's degree and at least two letters of recommendation.

The evaluation of the proposals will consider the following aspects: search history of the candidate and analysis of the letters of recommendation received. With regard to curricular analysis, the number of publications of the candidate will not be considered, but mainly their quality and relevance. In addition, applicants will be summoned for an in-person or online interview with the supervisor to assess adherence to the candidate's areas of expertise for research topics related to the project.

The vacancy is open for Brazilians and foreigners. The selected will receive FAPESP Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the amount of R$ 7,174.80 per month and Technical Reserve. The Technical Reserve of PD Grant is equivalent to 15% of the annual value of the scholarship and is intended to meet unforeseen expenses directly related to the research activity.

If the PD grant holder resides in a different address and needs to move to the city where the research institution is located, he/she may be entitled to a grant-installation. More information about the FAPESP Postdoctoral Fellowship is available at www.fapesp.br/bolsas/pd.

PhD Scholar Position available in Brisbane, Australia

A full time PhD Scholar position is available at UQ Diamatina Institute in Brisbane, Australia. The successful scholar will pursue a PhD degree investigating how early melanomas and skin cancers develop from precursor lesions or via the de novo development pathway. This research project will be headed by Dr Mitchell Stark and Professor Peter Soyer from the Dermatology Research Centre. For more information on the project, eligibility requirements and to apply, see here: http://jobs.uq.edu.au/caw/en/job/504506/phd-scholar

Funding Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Defense, under the guidance of the U.S Congress, has listed Melanoma as a funding priority as part of the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program for fiscal year 2018. A summary of the announcement is available here: http://cdmrp.army.mil/pubs/press/2018/18prcrppreann

For more specific instructions on deadlines and how to apply: http://cdmrp.army.mil/funding/prcrp

Melanoma Meetings Around the World

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