Jefferson Graduate Student Receives 2013 Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation Award

JMNMF President Greg Safko and Jefferson's Curtis Kugel

Curtis Kugel, a Thomas Jefferson University graduate student in the Department of Cancer Biology, was one of 10 students from leading cancer centers across the U.S. to receive a $10,000 “Research Scholar Award” (RSA) from the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation (JMNMF) for his exceptional research work.

JMNMF Chair, Regina Shannon Bodnar, and Board/RSA Committee member, Esther Hoffberg.  and JMNMF President Greg Safko, presented the award to Mr. Kugel at the Kimmel Cancer Center’s Bluemle Life Sciences Building on March 20.

Kugel 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.

Kugel’s research focuses on targeting receptor tyrosine kinases in an attempt to prevent resistance to RAF inhibitors in melanoma and improve the efficacy of those inhibitors.

“I am very excited to have been chosen to receive this award from the JMNMF for my work on melanoma research,” said Kugel. “With applicants working alongside some of the leading melanoma researchers and applying from some of the country’s top cancer centers, receiving this award is truly an honor.”

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 by nearly 11 percent in 2013 (following a 30 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 2013 RSA applicant pool and cancer research centers represented grew to include 44 of the country’s most promising young melanoma researchers, and 28 prominent National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers.

As first in the U.S. to fund graduate student melanoma researchers, the JMNMF program is celebrating the program’s seventh anniversary.

According to Regina Shannon Bodnar, “Our Foundation’s ‘Research Scholar Awards’ are invaluable at the grassroots level, to specifically grow interest in melanoma research, at leading cancer research centers nationwide.  If we can attract the brightest young 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 increasingly prevalent disease.”

For more information about JMNMF, please visit: http://www.melanomaresource.org/