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Gift Bolsters Melanoma Research Project


(May 2014) A five-year melanoma research project led by William Robinson, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, received a boost when the University of Colorado School of Medicine received a $5 million gift from an anonymous donor.

With the funding, investigators plan to conduct next-gener-ation DNA sequencing of up to 3,000 tissues and blood cell samples housed at a melanoma biorepository on the Anschutz Medical Campus. Previous research had focused on a small number of genes involved in the development and treatment of melanoma. The new technique, made possible by this gift, will allow investigators to examine all 20,000 genes in each cancer.

“Melanoma has become the poster child for the development of new molecularly targeted therapies, due to the rapid advances that have been made recently in melanoma research,” Dr Robinson, a 1962 graduate of the CU School of Medicine, says. “The information gained here will be made available to other research scientists around the world and will impact not only our understanding and treatment of melanoma, but other cancers as well.”

Public education in the U.S. about melanoma risk factors must continue, Robinson says.

“A majority of the sun exposure that leads to development of melanoma occurs during childhood and teenage years,” he says. “It’s not the sun you got last week. It’s the sun you got when you were young, when your skin is expanding or growing. Putting the suntan lotion on when you’re 60 is not likely to prevent you from getting melanoma.”