Willy Hugo, adjunct assistant professor of medicine and dermatology in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has been named as a NextGen Star by the American Association of Cancer Research for his efforts in finding new ways to combat melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer.

Hugo, a member of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, was one of eight young cancer investigators chosen as a promising young scientist for his cancer research. As a NextGen star, Hugo was invited to give a talk on immune evasion mechanisms in melanoma resistant to targeted- and/or immunotherapy at the organization’s annual meeting in Chicago last month. 

Under the mentorship of Dr. Roger Lo, professor of dermatology and molecular and medical pharmacology who is also a member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Hugo’s postdoctoral training focused on analyzing the genomic data of patient and melanoma models. Now Hugo is studying genes and pathways affecting melanoma's sensitivity and resistance toward targeted- and immunotherapies at single-cell level. He is translating these findings to help improve treatment outcomes for people diagnosed with the disease.