Arizona Cancer Center receives two UA Foundation-funded pilot grants

Arizona Cancer Center receives two UA Foundation-funded pilot grants

The Arizona Cancer Center received two UA Foundation-funded pilot grants to study the mechanisms of melanoma metastasis and create a new outreach program, Teaching Sun Safety to Teens.

Mechanisms of Melanoma Metastasis

Lee Cranmer, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine and director of the Arizona Cancer Center’s Melanoma/Sarcoma Program, received a $9,880 Faculty Seed Grant to study the mechanisms of melanoma metastasis.

Metastatic melanoma is a deadly form of skin cancer with few, if any, effective treatments. While some scientists have identified specific mechanisms responsible for melanoma metastasis, a global understanding of melanoma metastasis is still lacking.

With this grant, Dr. Cranmer and Sherif Morgan, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate, will examine 200 melanoma specimens, reflecting various stages in the metastatic progression. These specimens will be prepared for proteomic analysis, which will identify a comprehensive list of molecular changes associated with melanoma metastasis. Ultimately, this information will provide insight into the biology of melanoma metastasis, which can potentially identify effective treatments for metastatic melanoma.

The University of Arizona Foundation and the Office of the Vice President for Research, Graduate Studies, and Economic Development support the Faculty Seed Grants Program. Awards of up to $10,000 are made on a competitive basis for projects involving research or other creative scholarly activity. Faculty Seed Grants are intended to provide short-term, one-time support to "jump start" worthwhile projects and result in data or work products that can be used to develop major proposals for future extramural or private funding.

Teaching Sun Safety to Teens

Denise Spartonos, Community Outreach Coordinator for the Arizona Cancer Center’s Skin Cancer Institute (SCI), received a $9,745 Community Connection Grant to fund and evaluate a pilot test on a sun safety and skin cancer prevention program tailored to adolescents and targeted to Tucson-area high school students.

Teaching Sun Safety to Teens will use an innovative approach to connect the University of Arizona and the SCI to a population that receives little formal education on skin cancer prevention. At least 1,000 Tucson high school students, many of whom engage in skin cancer risk-increasing behaviors, will receive potentially lifesaving prevention messages.

Fifty UA students will be recruited and trained to be sun safety instructors who will lead the two-part program in four Tucson-area high schools. Part 1 focuses on the science of skin cancer and the importance of early detection and Part 2 covers skin cancer prevention with a hands-on demonstration of sun protection products and videotaped testimonials from teens that have experienced melanoma. Providing students with focused instruction increases the chances that they will follow basic sun safety steps, therefore, the program may open the door for improving the “skin health” of adolescents in Arizona.

Funded by donors to the UA Foundation who chose to leave a legacy in the form of endowed funds to benefit the University of Arizona, the Community Connection Grants program consists of awards up to $10,000 for exemplary, innovative projects that connect the University to the community beyond the campus.