Jefferson Graduate Student Receives Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation ‘Research Scholar Award’


From left to right: Dr. Andrew Aplin of Jefferson's Department of Cancer Biology, JMNMF's Denise Safko, Awardee Kevin Basile, JMNMF President Greg Safko, and Dr. Richard Pestell, Director of the KCC

Kevin Basile, a Thomas Jefferson University graduate student in the Genetics Ph.D. Program, was one of nine students from leading cancer centers across the U.S. to receive a $10,000 “Research Scholar Award” from the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation (JMNMF) for his exceptional research work.

Two members of the board of directors for JMNMF, including Secretary Denise Safko and President Greg Safko, presented the award to Mr. Basile at the Kimmel Cancer Center’s Bluemle Life Sciences Building on March 26.

Mr. Basile was also accompanied by Dr. Richard Pestell, Director of the Kimmel Cancer Center, and Andrew Aplin, Ph.D., an Associate Professor in the Department of Cancer Biology.

The stop was part of a “road-show” of sorts for JMNMF committee and board members, who are traveling up the Northeast from Baltimore to Boston for RSA ceremonies.

Mr. Basile’s research focuses on resistance to RAF inhibitors in melanoma and methods to enhance the efficacy of those inhibitors.

The JMNMF is a nonprofit public charity founded in January 2004 to foster melanoma education, advocacy and research. In just eight years, the Foundation has grown dramatically to become an influential voice in the melanoma community and is now established as a national, and international, “voice for melanoma prevention, detection, care and cure.”

The nationally competitive grants increased dramatically by nearly 30 percent in 2012 (following a 40 percent funding increase in 2011) to significantly enhance the potential for advancements in the melanoma cancer field and encourage a larger number of students to choose melanoma research as their professional career path.

The 2012 RSA applicant pool and cancer research centers represented grew to include 42 of the country’s most promising young melanoma researchers, and 28 prominent National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers or members of the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI).

This represents a dramatic 60 percent increase in students and 75 percent growth in research institutions participating, respectively. As first in the U.S. to fund graduate student melanoma researchers, the JMNMF program is celebrating the program’s sixth anniversary.

“Our Foundation’s ‘Research Scholar Awards’ are invaluable at the grassroots level, to specifically grow interest in melanoma research, at qualified cancer centers across the country,” said Robert E. Nicolay, JMNMF Chairman. “If we can attract the brightest minds that are considering, or are already within, the nation’s cancer research pipelines, to pursue a career in melanoma research – we’re that much closer to better understanding the disease, identifying the means for effective treatments and, most importantly, finding a cure for this deadly and very prevalent disease.”

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