Alan Houghton, MD

About Me

I am a physician-scientist with a special expertise in cancer immunology, the study of the immune system and cancer. I also have a particular focus on understanding and treating melanoma, and I have developed novel treatments for this deadly form of skin cancer.

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My research is focused on understanding both how the immune system recognizes cancer and how it rejects cancer. My colleagues and I conducted a clinical trial that was the first to show that a monoclonal antibody could significantly shrink a solid tumor — in this case melanoma. Additional studies in my laboratory have identified molecules and molecular targets on cancer cells that may be useful for therapy and many of these are being evaluated in clinical trials. These trials are investigating glycolipids, peptides, and DNA. The vaccines are being evaluated in people with metastatic melanoma, prostate, breast, pancreatic, and small-cell lung cancers, soft tissue sarcoma, and other cancers.

Over the years, I have published more than 300 scientific papers and books, including a definitive textbook on melanoma entitled Cutaneous Melanoma (QMP Publishing, St. Louis). I am also actively involved in training young scientists, medical students, and clinicians who are interested in careers in biomedical research. I currently hold the Lloyd J. Old Chair in Clinical Investigation and am Co-Leader of the Melanoma Disease Management Team, and Head of the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. I am also a Professor of Medicine & Immunology at Weill-Cornell Medical School.

In addition to my clinical and research activities at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I am actively involved in oncology on a national level. I served as Chairman of the National Cancer Center Networks Melanoma Committee and Co-Chairman of the Melanoma Study Group of the national cooperative clinical trials group CALGB. I had also served for ten years as an Editor of the Journal of Experiment Medicine.

My work has been recognized by various awards including the Boyer Award for Clinical Research, the C. Chester Stock Award, the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Skin Association, the Cancer Research Institute Investigator Award, the Muscular Dystrophy Association Distinguished Achievement Award, and the Society of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Award in Clinical Medicine. In 2009, Memorial Sloan Kettering establishedthe Alan Houghton Chair in Immunology in my honor.

  • Clinical Expertise: Melanoma; Immunotherapy; Cancer Vaccines
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: MD, University of Connecticut
  • Residencies: Internal Medicine - University of Connecticut
  • Fellowships: Medical Oncology - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Clinical Immunology - Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Board Certifications: Internal Medicine; Medical Oncology

My Research

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See Alan Houghton’s laboratory
research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.

See My Colleagues


Visit PubMed for a full listing of Alan Houghton’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

As home to one of the world’s top cancer research centers, Memorial Sloan Kettering is typically involved in more than 900 clinical trials at a given time. Currently, clinical trials focused on the conditions I treat are enrolling new patients. If you’re interested in joining a clinical trial, click to learn about the trial’s purpose, eligibility criteria, and how to get more information.

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Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicaid and New York State Medicare also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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