The Leachman-Cassidy Lab is a transdisciplinary and translational research team designed to improve melanoma health outcomes with a focus on melanoma prevention and early detection before metastasis can occur. Their goal is to eliminate as many melanoma-related deaths as possible utilizing a full-spectrum approach; from bench-side basic science, to bed-side treatment and care, to wide-scale public health outreach.
Dr. Cassidy leads the Lab's translational and basic science efforts, incorporating molecular, cellular and human genetics studies to understand and develop prevention agents for the highest risk individuals. Together they have a long standing program in collaboration with Dr. Elizabeth Berry, to understand and identify individuals who are genetically predisposed to melanoma, for the purpose of improved screening and detection and chemoprevention.
Dr. Leachman leads the clinical science and population health efforts through her nationwide War on MelanomaTM effort. This includes the creation of the largest melanoma registry in the country, as well as other key efforts such as the MoleMapperTM mole tracking phone app, melanoma education efforts for several key audiences, and the public health campaign Start Seeing MelanomaTM. She is also an advocate for innovative technologies for melanoma screening and diagnosis.
Meet Dr. Leachman
Dr. Leachman is Professor and Chair of Dermatology at OHSU and Director of the Melanoma Program at OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute. The inaugural recipient of the John D. Gray Endowed Chair in Melanoma Research and Chair of the Southwest Oncology Group Melanoma Prevention Working Group, she is a dermatologist using basic science research and state-of-the-art technology to combat skin cancer.
Dr. Leachman’s research interest is in the prevention, early detection and chemoprevention of melanoma, particularly in genetically predisposed melanoma families. One arm of her research program examines the role of genetic predisposition and differential gene expression in the development of melanoma, with an emphasis on familial melanoma and other cutaneous cancer syndromes. Through collaborations with Dr. Cassidy, she seeks to develop agents that will serve as diagnostic tools, prognostic indicators or targeted agents for the prevention of melanoma.
Leachman is passionate about fighting the “War on Melanoma” and has led the effort in building one of the largest national melanoma patient registries. In line with the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s focus on the early detection of cancer, Leachman and team have developed a mobile phone app, MoleMapper, and have launched a host of efforts designed to eliminate future melanoma deaths in Oregon and beyond, including the public health campaign Start Seeing Melanoma.
Meet Dr. Cassidy
Dr. Cassidy, Research Associate Professor of Dermatology, is a medicinal chemist. Dr. Cassidy’s overall research interests are in the use of small molecules as tools for identification and biological characterization of targets for pharmacologic intervention in human disease (emphasis on cancer); cancer prevention focusing on glutathione prodrugs, organoselenium compounds and antioxidants; selenoproteins and their effects on the etiology of cancer, especially melanoma; and melanoma and pigment cell biology.
Dr. Cassidy's collaborative work with Dr. Leachman, at OHSU and previously at the University of Utah, and with Zalfa Abdel-Malek, Ph.D., an investigator at the University of Cincinnati, investigates the effects of mutations in the melanocortin-1 receptor gene, a key hair and skin color regulation gene, on melanocytes and melanoma development. This group has conducted microarray expression studies of MC1R mutant melanocytes to identify antioxidant classes that might compensate for loss of function of the mutant receptor.
Additionally, Dr. Cassidy is building on previous work with colleagues at the University of Utah that used mass spectrometry to chemically characterize modifications to thioredoxin reductase 1 (TR1), an enzyme involved in cellular defense against oxidative stress, in reactions with electrophilic lipids. Her current investigations expand upon this work by exploring the impacts of TR1 redox signaling in melanocytes and melanoma cells using new approaches, including proteomics.