Dr. Cristina Puig-Saus and Dr. Gatien Moriceau, UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers, have received the Young Investigator Award from the Melanoma Research Alliance, the largest nonprofit funder of melanoma research. The three-year, $225,000 award provides critical funding to help address unmet needs in melanoma research and support work in improving outcomes for patients with melanoma.

Puig-Saus, adjunct assistant professor of medicine and hematology/oncology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and senior fellow at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, received the Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma-MRA Young Investigator Award. The award will help Puig-Saus and her team better understand the properties of tumor-specific T-cell responses that lead to long-term antitumor activity in advanced melanoma.

“The Melanoma Research Alliance helped jump-start the careers of many current leaders in the field, and its support is a great opportunity that will help establish my career as a young investigator,” Puig-Saus said.

Moriceau, assistant adjunct professor of medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine, was granted the Melanoma Research Alliance Young Investigator Award to support a preclinical study to demonstrate the efficiency of a novel combination therapy. This combination durably suppresses the MAPK pathway in select patients with cutaneous melanomas that harbor NRAS and NF1 mutations.

“It is an honor and a privilege to receive this prestigious award. The support from the Melanoma Research Alliance will help launch my career as an independent investigator and advance our characterization of this innovative therapeutic combination,” Moriceau said.

The Young Investigator Award was given to 24 researchers, who were selected through a rigorous peer-review process and confirmed by the organization’s board of directors.