Xiao Zhang, a postdoctoral scholar in Dr. Roger Lo’s laboratory at the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, was named a dermatology fellow by the Melanoma Research Alliance. The $50,000 award helps support research for the prevention and treatment of melanoma, a condition 100,000 people in the U.S. are projected to face this year alone.  

Currently, physicians are unable to use genomic data to predict whether a patient’s melanoma could return after removal. Understanding the aggressiveness of the cancer aids in predicting their likelihood of survival. 

Using genomic data, Zhang aims to advance the ability to predict whether primary cutaneous melanomas, the most common subtype of malignant melanoma, will continue to spread or return after surgery. The researchers found that simple tissue tests may be developed as a potential surrogate for genomic data, making clinical testing more accessible to physicians and patients. 

“The data we are generating will provide unparalleled ability to link melanoma prognosis with underlying genomic mechanisms, future pharmacologic targets and potentially therapeutic predictive biomarkers,” Zhang said.