The Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation established the Research Scholar Award Program in 2006. The primary objective of the program is to recognize and support outstanding graduate students who are actively involved in melanoma research, and their institutions.
One of the six recipients of this prestigious and highly competitive award for 2011 is Katelyn T. Byrne, a fourth year graduate student from the MCB program at Dartmouth Medical School. Byrne is a highly accomplished senior graduate student in the lab of Dr. Mary Jo Turk.
Her recent cutting-edge work on the role of autoimmunity in the generation of long-term protective responses to melanoma was published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Investigation. The elegantly established system employed by Byrne has shed light on the role of normal, self-tissue destruction in the generation of enhanced adaptive immune responses against cancers.
Byrne is a 2007 alumnus of Boston University, where she graduated with a degree in biochemistry and molecular biology. While completing her bachelors degree she worked in the lab of Vicki Rubin Kelley at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where she studied the role of Colony Stimulating Factor -1 (CSF-1)—a primary growth factor for macrophages—in enhancing inflammatory responses and thus lupus nephritis.
Bryne intends to use the $10,000 award toward further experiments the Turk lab is conducting to elucidate the mechanisms involved in their current findings where long lasting, highly effective, adaptive immune responses were primed by autoimmune Vitiligo in their model of melanoma.
Surgery is one of the most common treatments for melanoma but poor tumor immunogenicity compromises post-surgical memory immune responses. Previous work from the Turk lab has contributed to illustrating the effect of regulatory T cell depletion in establishing protective post-surgery memory responses to tumors with poor immunogenicity.
Turk explained that Byrne is the first student from her lab to receive this award. She added, “The Nicolay Foundation award provides recognition for our lab’s ongoing efforts to combat melanoma. This is an honor for Kate, the Turk lab, and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center as a whole.”
by S. Rameeza Allie