Jonathan Chernoff Receives Melanoma Research Foundation Grant to Support RAC1 Mutant Melanoma Work

PHILADELPHIA (December 11, 2018) — Jonathan Chernoff, MD, PhD, chief scientific officer and Stanley P. Reimann Chair in Oncology Research at Fox Chase Cancer Center, has received a grant from the Melanoma Research Foundation to support his research on RAC1 mutant melanoma. The grant will provide $200,000 over two years.

With this grant, the Chernoff laboratory will further investigate two newly discovered genes, PREX2 and RAC1, that cause melanoma in response to sun damage. These genes encode proteins that act in a common pathway on cells, which directly activate a protein called PAK. Broadly, the lab studies the process of neoplastic transformation with the goal of uncovering the role of protein phosphorylation in governing fundamental aspects of cancer biology.

“The first aim of the research made possible by this grant is to determine how melanoma cells adapt to and eventually evade PAK inhibitors and then use the knowledge acquired to cut off the melanoma cell’s ability to escape from such drugs,” Chernoff said.

He said the second aim is to devise a new mouse model of melanoma by inserting the mutant RAC1 gene into the mouse genome. The mouse model will be used to evaluate the efficacy of anti-melanoma drugs such as PAK inhibitors and other agents.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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