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​AACR-Ocular Melanoma Foundation Fellowship

The AACR-Ocular Melanoma Foundation Fellowship represents a joint effort to encourage and support a mentored young investigator to conduct ocular/uveal melanoma research and to establish a successful career path in ophthalmology, ocular oncology, uveal melanoma cancer biology, or similar field. Eligibility is limited to postdoctoral and clinical research fellows who have completed their most recent doctoral degree within the past five years. The research proposed for funding may be basic, translational, or clinical in nature and must have direct, primary applicability and relevance to ocular/uveal melanoma. The fellowship is awarded annually in honor of Robert C. Allen, MD, former chairman of ophthalmology at Virginia Commonwealth University and cofounder of the Ocular Melanoma Foundation (OMF).

2017 Grantee

Ocular Melanoma Foundation-AACR Fellowship in honor of the Kammerman Family


Vivian Chua, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
Thomas Jefferson University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Novel epigenetic targeting approaches in uveal melanoma

Scientific Statement of Research
BRCA1-associated protein 1 (BAP1) and the bromodomain and extraterminal domain proteins (BET) are important regulators of epigenetics in uveal melanoma (UM). Inactivating mutations in BAP1 have been associated with aggressive UM and inhibition of BET proteins reduces UM cell viability. In this proposal, Dr. Chua will investigate the role of BAP1 in sensitization of UM to targeted inhibitors; PARP, EZH2 and BET inhibitors. An unbiased chemical screen will also be performed to identify agents that would elicit growth inhibition in BAP1 mutant UM. Additionally, her studies have shown that FGF2 is produced by the liver microenvironment and provides resistance to BET inhibitors in metastatic UM. She will characterize the mechanisms of FGF2 effects and whether targeting the FGF2/FGFR pathway enhances the responses of metastatic UM to BET inhibitors. Through her studies, she expects to provide the pre- clinical basis and optimal strategy for targeting epigenetic regulators that are implicated in UM.

Dr. Chua completed her undergraduate and graduate studies in Perth, Western Australia. In 2015, she obtained her PhD at the University of Western Australia with a thesis titled “Regulation of Gene Expression by the Androgen Receptor and Hedgehog Pathways in Breast Cancer Cells.” She is currently training as a postdoctoral fellow under the mentorship of Dr. Andrew Aplin at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center in Philadelphia, focusing on research to improve therapeutic options for advanced uveal or ocular melanoma.

Acknowledgement of Support
I would like to thank AACR for this prestigious award and Dr. Andrew Aplin, my current PI, for his guidance. As a junior postdoctoral fellow, this fellowship is extremely meaningful to me and it gives me great encouragement to continue my passion and scientific contribution to ocular melanoma and cancer research.

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