The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center – Jefferson Health (SKCC) welcomes Melissa A. Wilson, MD, PhD, as a new Associate Professor of Medical Oncology. Dr. Wilson treats patients with skin cancers including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and Merkel cell carcinoma.
In addition to her clinical practice, Dr. Wilson leads clinical and translational research projects focused on improving treatment options for patients with melanoma. She is particularly interested in novel targeted therapies for melanoma patients who do not respond to currently available treatment options.
Some tumors have specific gene mutations making them responsive to therapies that target these genes, namely BRAF. However, a subset of melanomas carry either an NRAS mutation or they lack known gene mutations (BRAF and NRAS wildtype) and are called wildtype. Patients with NRAS mutant or wildtype melanoma face limited treatment options.
Dr. Wilson’s research addresses these cohorts of NRAS mutant and wildtype melanoma patients, and she will be leading a clinical trial at SKCC. This trial is slated to open within the next couple of months and is already open at her previous institution. She will be working closely with Andrew Aplin, PhD, Associate Director of Basic Research and Leader of the Cancer Cell Biology and Signaling Program, and the entire expert melanoma team at SKCC.
Dr. Wilson joins SKCC from the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone Health, where she was Assistant Professor of Medicine. She is a Philadelphia native, having grown up in the Northeast section of the city. Dr. Wilson first received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Georgetown University, then attended medical school at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, and finally completed her residency and a fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I am excited to join the great melanoma research group at SKCC and to work with a collaborative team to bring novel treatments to patients,” Dr. Wilson said.
The Melanoma Research Alliance recently awarded Dr. Wilson with Young Investigator Awards in order to study non-BRAF mutant melanoma, as well as a past award investigating a strategy to overcome resistance to BRAF inhibitors that many patients with BRAF mutations experience after initially responding positively to treatment.
“We are very pleased to have Dr. Wilson join our faculty, and she brings further depth and breadth to our cutaneous melanoma program. She will be instrumental in moving the discoveries from Dr. Aplin’s laboratory to the clinic, resulting in better treatments for our melanoma patients,” said Wm. Kevin Kelly, DO, Associate Director of Clinical Research and Director of the Division of Solid Tumor Oncology.