About the Center

Melanoma is a type of cancer that forms in cells called melanocytes. It usually forms in skin, but can also form in other tissues such as the eyes or intestines. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or tanning beds can raise the risk of melanoma of the skin. Members of the Melanoma Center do research to improve understanding and management of skin cancers. The center has these broad goals:

  • Improve melanoma treatment
  • Develop immune system therapies to treat it
  • Create targeted therapies against proteins involved in the disease’s spread to other areas
  • Identify new genes involved in melanoma susceptibility
  • Develop strategies to prevent the disease
  • Develop animal models of melanoma

Melanoma Research Labs

A Sample of Current Projects

  • Investigating aspirin as a UV-protectanct and potential melanoma prevention agent in subjects at high-risk for melanoma.

  • Studying mechanisms of combination immunotherapy plus oncolytic virus-based therapy for melanoma.
  • Examining genes that regulate development of melanoma brain metastases.
  • Developing alternating dosing regimens to forestall the onset of drug resistance in patients with advanced BRAF-mutated melanoma.


Immunotherapy Leads the Way for Melanoma Treatment
Jan 30, 2020

Immunotherapy Leads the Way for Melanoma Treatment

Only a few months after she retired in October 2018, Lynn Walker knew something was wrong with her health. Without any prior history of skin cancers, she learned that she had an advanced form of melanoma that has spread all over her body. Walker worried about the possibility of going through chemotherapy and not surviving the effects of cancer treatment, let alone melanoma. But she soon learned of another approach that held promise for her type of cancer: immunotherapy.... Read More

Holmen Receives Prestigious Melanoma Research Award
Nov 25, 2019

Holmen Receives Prestigious Melanoma Research Award

The Society for Melanoma Research recently presented Sheri Holmen, PhD, with the prestigious Estela Medrano Memorial Award. Holmen is a melanoma researcher at Huntsman Cancer Institute and a professor of surgery at the University of Utah. This award was created in honor of the late Estela Medrano, a leader in melanoma research. The Estela Medrano Award is given annually to a woman who has made major contributions in the fight against melanoma.... Read More

BRIGHT Study Finds Genetic Testing Motivates Behavior Changes in Families at Risk for Melanoma
Aug 01, 2019

BRIGHT Study Finds Genetic Testing Motivates Behavior Changes in Families at Risk for Melanoma

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and melanoma is the most severe type of skin cancer. Utah has a particularly high melanoma rate. A new study led by researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute collaborators at Northwestern University and Oregon Health and Science University investigated whether genetic testing would motivate people at risk of developing melanoma to alter their behavior in order to reduce their risk.... Read More

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Melanoma Center Co-leader

Douglas Grossman, PhD, MD
Professor of Dermatology
Cancer Center Bio

Melanoma Center Co-leader

Sheri L. Holmen, PhD
Professor in the Department of Surgery
Cancer Center Bio