Research and Training Grants in Skin Cancer

We support an Extramural Grants program that funds individual investigators engaged in cancer research or training at medical schools, universities, research institutes and hospitals throughout the U.S. Following rigorous and independent peer review, the most innovative research projects are selected for support.

Spotlight on Skin Cancer Grantees

The following are just a few of the skin cancer investigators currently being funded by the American Cancer Society who are working to find the answers that will save more lives and better prevent, treat, and manage skin cancer.

Leah Ferrucci, PhD, Yale University

Young women are the heaviest users of tanning beds. That’s why Ferrucci is developing a web-based intervention to reduce indoor tanning among young women recently diagnosed with a non-cancerous skin condition related to UV exposure. The researcher will also develop a method to prevent adolescent girls from trying indoor tanning. Interventions to stop or prevent tanning bed use could potentially result in fewer skin cancer cases and deaths. The Society recommends people avoid tanning beds completely.

Yu-Ying He, PhD, University of Chicago

Skin cancer prevention efforts are also focused on another group at high risk for skin cancer: organ transplant recipients, whose numbers are growing as more people survive these procedures. The immune-suppressing drugs needed to prevent organ rejection leave organ transplant recipients highly vulnerable to the skin-damaging effects of UV exposure. Yu-Ying He is looking at whether suppression of the immune system is the only factor at play or if other mechanisms are making these patients more susceptible to UV damage. The hope is to develop targeted strategies to prevent skin cancer in this at-risk group.

Kyle Hadden, PhD, University of Connecticut

Hadden is investigating whether vitamin D, which the body creates naturally when in the sun, has the potential to be used as a starting point in the creation of new drugs to treat skin cancer. Hadden is working with vitamin D because it has been shown to inhibit a pathway in the body’s cells known as the Hedgehog pathway. This pathway is usually inactive in normal adult cells, but if it mistakenly activates, it may contribute to the development of a variety of tumors, including skin. Blocking malfunctioning Hedgehog pathways with vitamin D may be a treatment strategy for these tumors.

Xiaoyang Wu, PhD, University of Chicago,

Wu is studying a protein called RIPK4, which affects the role skin cancer stem cells play in the growth of skin tumors, such as squamous cell carcinoma. Wu hopes that by better understanding the mechanisms that control the behaviors of skin cancer stem cells, his work will lead to the development of new treatments for the disease. 

From Our Researchers

The American Cancer Society employs a staff of full-time researchers who relentlessly pursue the answers that help us understand how to prevent, detect, and treat cancer, including skin cancer.