As a physician-scientist and specialist in melanoma that has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body, I care for patients with this cancer in the clinic and search for new therapies to control and cure the disease.
Since joining Memorial Sloan Kettering in 1988, I have diagnosed and treated thousands of patients with metastatic melanoma. This aggressive type of cancer begins in specialized pigment cells and spreads from its original site to lymph nodes, and eventually to other parts of the body.
In the past decade, we have gained significant insights into two areas of melanoma that have led to drug development. The first finding relates to genetic errors contained inside a melanoma cell, and has enabled the development of drugs that target these errors. The second is an expanded understanding of how the body’s immune system can recognize cancers like melanoma. From this we have learned how to activate a vigorous immune response against the disease.