Melanoma and Skin Cancer

Hassane Zarour, MD (Contact)
John Kirkwood, MD

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is conducting a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Skin Cancer. The overall goal of the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program (MSCP SPORE) is to develop novel translational research to overcome the hurdles of current therapies of melanoma and cSCCs.

The SPORE includes three translational research projects in skin cancer, three cores including an administrative core, a developmental research program, and a career development program. The Skin Cancer SPORE uses an interdisciplinary approach to meet its objectives by carrying out projects with co-investigators in basic, applied, and clinical science. It is also organ-specific; all translational research projects test hypotheses about skin cancer biology, susceptibility, detection, or treatment with a long-term goal of improving treatment outcomes for patients diagnosed with skin cancer. The main projects are:

  • Project 1: Evaluating the synergy of LAG3 and PD1 in melanoma patients
  • Project 2: Immunotherapy with CMP intratumoral and nivolumab in melanoma
  • Project 3: Localized microneedle-directed combination immunotherapy for cSCC

The research cores are the Biospecimen and Translational Pathology Core and the Biostatistics and Bioinformatics Core. These research cores will support the main research projects, developmental research projects, and the career development investigators in carrying out translational skin cancer research. The Administrative Core will solicit feedback from the Internal and External Scientific Advisory Boards and provide scientific, regulatory, and fiscal oversight for the SPORE program. The Skin SPORE investigators will work together to synergistically achieve the goals of the program and will also interact with investigators from SPOREs at other institutions to improve the outcome of patients with skin cancer.