Donald A. Adam Melanoma and Skin Cancer Research Center of Excellence

MSCRCoE group members

Donald A. Adam Melanoma and Skin Cancer Research Center of Excellence
Florida is known as the Sunshine State, and the incidence of melanoma is very high.  In May 2007, Donald A. Adam, a melanoma survivor and banker, donated $20.4 million to Moffitt Cancer Center to expand expertise in the area of melanoma research.  The gift provided the foundation for Moffitt to develop the Donald A. Adam Comprehensive Melanoma and Skin Cancer Research Center of Excellence (MSCRCoE). MSCRCoE Director Keiran S. Smalley, Ph.D. works closely with James J. Mulé, PhD, associate center director of Translational Science and melanoma expert, and Vernon K. Sondak, MD, chair of the Cutaneous Oncology Department, to develop multidisciplinary research focused on melanoma. In 2016, Kenneth Y. Tsai, MD, Ph.D. was recruited to lead the newly formed section of non-melanoma skin cancers.

These leaders have brought together more than 30 clinical and basic research scientists to allow Moffitt Cancer Center to become a leading center of excellence in melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers research.

Our Goals

The goals of the MSCRCoE are to be a leading contributor to the prevention and cure of melanoma and other skin cancers and to quickly bring new laboratory developments to clinical trials.  The two main approaches are investigating and developing:

  • treatments that direct the immune system to attack melanoma cells
  • treatments and strategies to block pathways important for melanoma development, growth and spread
  • novel prevention strategies and therapies for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and Merkel cell carcinoma 

Our Members

The MSCRCoE includes a diverse group of expert scientists investigating the problem of melanoma from many different perspectives, all working together to understand the disease at all levels. Click on the names below to learn more about the scientists who make up our team.

Our Successes

  • More than 1500 melanoma patients have entered into clinical trials supported by the MSCRCoE.
  • MSCRCoE clinicians now see >2000 new melanoma patients every year
  • MSCRCoE investigators have obtained more $50 million in grant funding, published high impact manuscripts in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, the Journal of Clinical Oncology, The Lancet, Cancer Discovery, Cancer Research and Oncogene.
  • MSCRCoE investigators have directly contributed to the FDA approval of 11 new drugs and drug combinations to treat melanoma.
  • The FDA-approval of the BRAF-MEK inhibitor combination to treat advanced melanoma was first supported by work performed by MSCRCoE investigators.
  • The creation by Dr. Mulé of "designer lymph nodes" in the mouse, which led to a clinical trial of a vaccine against melanoma.
  • The development by Dr. Smalley of the novel combination of a BRAF and a HSP90 inhibitor, which led to a clinical trial in patients with advanced melanoma
  • The development of a unique, extensive database containing genetic and clinical information that can be used in clinical studies to help determine the best course of treatment for a patient.
  • The discovery of a new antibody that stimulates immunity and increases the cancer-killing ability of immune cells in patients with cancer and which has had high response rates in patients who have failed multiple other therapies.
  • One of the first tests in humans of a new treatment for melanoma in which cells are harvested from the patient's own tumor has been conducted successfully at Moffitt by Amod Sarnaik, MD, and Dr. Mulé, using MSCRCoE resources.
  • The award of a prestigious 5-year National Cancer Institute SPORE grant to MSCRCoE investigators in 2013. This large, multi-PI, grant supports multiple innovative translational research projects designed to develop novel melanoma therapies.

Keiran S. Smalley, Ph.D. 

Section Head - Non-Melanoma Cancer Research & Treatment
Kenneth Tsai, MD, PhD

Daniel Abate-Daga, PhD
Amer Beg, PhD
Srikumar P. Chellappan, PhD
Y. Ann Chen, PhD
C. Cruse, MD
Kathleen M. Egan, ScD
Zeynep Eroglu, MD
Elsa Flores, PhD
Robert Gatenby, MD
Robert J. Gillies, PhD
Anna R. Giuliano, PhD
Peter Kanetsky, PhD
Florian Karreth, PhD
Minjung Kim, PhD
Sungjune Kim, PhD
Nikhil Khushlani, MD
John M. Koomen, PhD
Eric Lau, PhD
Michael Mann, PhD
Joseph Markowitz, MD
Jane L. Messina, MD
David L. Morse, PhD
James J. Mulé, PhD
Jong Y. Park, PhD
Shari A. Pilon-Thomas, PhD
Uwe Rix, PhD
Dana E. Rollison, PhD
Amod Sarnaik, MD
Michael J. Schell, PhD
Keiran S. Smalley, PhD
Vernon K. Sondak, MD
Jamie Teer, PhD
Andy M. Trotti, MD
Lixin Wan, PhD
Jonathan S. Zager, MD