AACR-Ocular Melanoma Foundation Career Development Award

The AACR-Ocular Melanoma Foundation Career Development Award represents a joint effort to encourage and support junior faculty to conduct ocular/uveal melanoma research and establish a successful career path in ophthalmology, ocular oncology, uveal melanoma biology, or a similar field.

2018 Grantee

Alison H. Skalet, MD, PhD

Alison H. Skalet, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor
Oregon Health and Science University
Portland, Oregon
Circulating hybrid cells as a prognostic biomarker for uveal melanoma

Uveal melanoma is an aggressive intraocular cancer associated with high rates of metastatic disease. Although highly predictive molecular prognostic testing for uveal melanoma is available, it requires tumor tissue that is not always accessible via tumor biopsy. Dr. Skalet’s group has identified circulating cells in patients with uveal melanoma that are hybrids of macrophage and tumor cells. She is set to determine the prognostic power of these circulating hybrid cells in uveal melanoma patients undergoing primary treatment and to correlate the levels of these cells with clinical staging and gene expression profile classification.

Dr. Skalet completed her MD/PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. Following an internship at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, she completed her ophthalmology residency at the University of California, San Francisco, and subspecialty training in ocular oncology and ophthalmic pathology at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). She is currently an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Casey Eye Institute, OHSU. Her research focuses on early detection of uveal melanoma and vision-threatening complications of radiation treatment.

Acknowledgement of Support
This grant award supports exploration of a novel circulating tumor cell population as a non-invasive prognostic biomarker and source for genetic information in uveal melanoma. Development of this novel biomarker permits pursuit of a line of inquiry with potential to open a new conceptual area in uveal melanoma research.