Press Release

Fox Chase Researcher Mitchell Fane Awarded $255,000 Grant to Explore Relationship Between Aging and Melanoma

Mitchell Fane, PhD, has received a grant to investigate the role of aging in immune-regulated reactivation from metastatic melanoma.

Mitchell Fane, PhD

Mitchell Fane, PhD

Mitchell Fane, PhD, an Assistant Professor in the Cancer Signaling and Microenvironment Research Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center, has received a $255,000 grant from the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) to investigate the role of aging in immune-regulated reactivation from metastatic melanoma.

“I’m honored to receive this generous award from such a prestigious organization. It dovetails perfectly with my main research focus, which is to better understand the molecular mechanisms involved in aging pre-metastatic niches and their role in promoting cancer cell dormancy and metastatic reactivation,” said Fane.

The MRA is the world’s leading nonprofit funder of melanoma research. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, remains a public health threat. This year, over 100,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma and one person every hour of every day will die from the disease.

The Merck-MRA Young Investigator Award that Fane received is one of a number that the MRA bestows to empower the next generation of early career researchers. In addition to funding bold new ideas, MRA’s Young Investigator Award program is also a training ground for researchers through the interaction with a senior melanoma investigator serving as a mentor as the young researchers prepare for the future of their science careers.

“MRA is a world leader in advancing transformational science that has caused paradigm shifts in what it means to be diagnosed with and treated for melanoma,” said MRA’s Chief Executive Officer, Marc Hurlbert, PhD. “When MRA was founded in 2007, melanoma research was stagnant and treatment options were few. Today, a person with advanced melanoma has access to 17 Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments.”

“Melanoma research has made tremendous progress over the last 15 years,” said Joan Levy, PhD, the MRA’s Chief Science Officer. “Even as we’ve made significant, lifesaving advances in understanding and treating melanoma, nearly 50% of patients with advanced melanoma do not respond to current treatments. Our focused research agenda aims to improve treatment options, unravel the complexities of rare melanomas, understand why melanoma metastasizes so rapidly, and develop more tools and technologies for better early detection.”

The clinical implications of Fane’s research may highlight the need for a change in how to properly model cancer using preclinical models, particularly given that the majority of cancer incidence and mortality is much higher in older patients, while most cancer models are done using younger preclinical animal models and most clinical trials largely recruit younger patients.

Prior to joining Fox Chase in 2023, Fane was a postdoctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where he focused on investigating the aged microenvironment and its effect on metastatic reactivation from tumor dormancy. From 2017 to 2019, he conducted research on the same topic at the Wistar Institute.

Fane earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in biomedical sciences at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Fane’s most recent focus has been investigating the role of aging in lung fibroblasts and the effect this has on secreted soluble factors that can induce phenotypic switching between a dormant and proliferative melanoma cell phenotype. A paper on this work was published in the prestigious journal Naturelast year.

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