Dr. Melissa Davis is a research faculty member of the Department of Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, New York. She holds adjunct faculty appointments in the Department of Genetics at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, and in the Department of Population Health Sciences at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan.
Dr. Davis received her PhD in molecular genetics at the University of Georgia. Following this, she completed postdoctoral fellowships in functional genomics and systems biology in Departments of Human Genetics at Yale School of Medicine and the University of Chicago, where she also trained at the U-Chicago Center for Interdisciplinary Health Disparities. This final stop in her training is where she began work in her current research interest: To identify biological mechanisms of racial disparities in cancer risk and clinical outcomes of cancer diagnoses. The Davis lab has produced findings that have established that unique genetic signatures in both breast and prostate tumors of African and African American patients are enriched for mechanisms that correlate with aggressive tumor progression, which generate novel opportunities for precision medicine applications in minority populations. Her current work builds upon findings in her breast cancer research, where she has identified that and African-Ancestry allele, and the recently discovered tumor expression, of a gene named DARC (ACKR1) is linked to the tumor-specific immune/inflammatory response. Emerging findings of this project indicate that unique immune response in tumors of African Americans may be linked to worse clinical outcomes, yet hold the potential for novel targeted therapies.