Skin Cancer

John Kirkwood, MD, Principal Investigator

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is conducting a Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) in Skin Cancer. The overall goals of the SPORE are to improve our understanding of molecular and immunologic mechanisms of cancer progression and to validate prognostic and predictive biomarkers for personalized treatment of advanced melanoma and cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL).

The SPORE includes four translational research projects in skin cancer, four 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: Biomarkers of the Pro-Inflammatory Response and Elements of Immune Suppression
  • Project 2: Multiple Antigen-Engineered DC Immunization and IFNα Boost for Metastatic Melanoma
  • Project 3: Phase I Study of Anti-PD-1 Antibody MK-3475 and PEG IFNα-2b for Advanced Melanoma
  • Project 4: An In Situ Patient-Specific Chemo-Immunotherapy for Skin Cancers

The research cores are the Biospecimen Core/Immunologic Monitoring and Cellular Products Laboratory, the Biostatistics Core and the Informatics 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.