War on Melanoma Projects

A group photo of War on Melanoma leaders

Dr. Leachman leads the War on MelanomaTM (WoM), a multifaceted project with a focus on early detection and prevention of melanoma through education, activism, and research in Oregon. With partners in Arizona, California, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Texas, Dr. Leachman created the WoM-Federated States Partnership to expand WoM nation-wide. The Federated States Partnership includes Drs. Susan Swetter (California), Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski (Arizona), Suephy Chen (Georgia), Karen Edelson and Lynn Cornelius (Missouri), Kelly Nelson (Texas), and Rhoda Alani and Debjani Sahni (Massachusetts) – clinicians and scientists who are leading the charge to initiate primary prevention and early detection strategies across all socioeconomic levels and racial-ethnic groups to prevent fatal melanoma.

Ongoing War on MelanomaTM  projects include:


Developed by Dr. Leachman’s group and collaborators at Sage Bionetworks, MoleMapper™ is a cellphone app available in Apple®’s App Store. Part of the ResearchKit suite of apps, MoleMapper™ facilitates data collection for melanoma research and, potentially, impacts health outcomes in individuals at risk for melanoma. MoleMapper™ tracks moles and how they change and grow over time. The initial release of MoleMapper™ (2.0) demonstrated the efficacy of using smartphone capabilities as a research tool empowering citizen-supported science. With the advent of version 3.0 for the iPhone, the group is embarking on the next wave of research. This work is expected to generate more and better data to answer questions about future capabilities and limitations of using smart phones as potential aids to patients and the medical community seeking to provide quality healthcare. Dr. Leachman collaborates with Drs. Tracy Petrie and Ravikant Samatham on MoleMapper™.

Visit the MoleMapper™ website.

Digital Dermoscopy and Reflectance Confocal Microsopy

The OHSU Dermatology Skin Imaging Center focuses on early skin cancer diagnosis, in particular that of melanoma, using digital dermoscopy and reflectance confocal microscopy (RCM). RCM is a non-invasive laser screening method that enables trained dermatologists to visualize structures at the cellular level. OHSU is the first academic institution to offer virtual biopsies with RCM in a clinical setting in the Western United States and among the first in the country to support research applications of this technology. Dr. Leachman collaborates with Drs. Joanna Ludzik and Alexander Witkowski on Skin Imaging Center initiatives.

Melanoma and Patient-centered Outreach Program.

Knight Cancer Institute doctors and scientists are pioneers in precision oncology and early detection, but primary care providers, patients and communities have an important, yet unfulfilled, role in the fight against cancer. This program utilizes the Social Cognitive Theory of empowerment to inspire a behavioral change in Oregonians that will reduce melanoma mortality.

In this novel mass media campaign in Oregon, Dr. Leachman and collaborators are comparing marketing and educational strategies in rural and urban areas, using different media channels, including billboards and print advertising, television Public Service Announcements and social media, to evaluate effectiveness. This ad campaign-based research project will compare the efficacy of these different strategies across media type and geographical location.

This group is also conducting small-scale testing with our public health team to confirm indicators of response going forward, in order to determine downstream response rates with different messages and in different media forms and geographical contexts. The group’s goal is to produce data to guide the decision-making process with respect to which media formats produce the best response in which populations, informing future cancer prevention and early detection public education campaigns.

High School Curriculum

This project is a prospective study testing effects on knowledge acquisition and attitude change in Oregon high school students following a tailored interactive melanoma early detection curriculum. The project is led by Dr. Leachman in collaboration with a talented and dedicated group of OHSU Medical Students, who are coordinating with instructional designers, statisticians and schools throughout Oregon to develop, implement and analyze the results of the program.

Visit the High School Curriculum page.

Primary Care Curriculum

The objective of this project is to implement a novel, online education and resource toolkit for Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) in rural areas. The toolkit will allow learners to identify high-risk patients for screening, recognize suspicious lesions through visual identification and biopsy, and educate patients to be empowered to check their own skin and report changes or warning signs. Dr. Leachman and colleagues also seek to understand the rate of uptake and impact of the toolkit content into PCP practice through a research study conducted at OHSU.

Visit the Primary Care Curriculum page.

Professionals Curriculum

Dr. Leachman’s team previously collaborated with the IMPACT Melanoma Foundation to implement a curriculum for licensed professionals who see skin on a daily basis (e.g., massage therapists, hairdressers, athletic trainers, etc.). The Oregon Health Authority has approved this curriculum for continuing education and partnered with Dr. Leachman’s team to disseminate the curriculum. Pre- and post-participation surveys assess the learner’s knowledge and confidence, and interactive scenario-based education models the correct way to communicate with clients without breaching scope of practice. Provided materials connect clients with information to make a medical appointment.

Visit the Professionals Curriculum page.