Melanoma/BRAF WildType Dream Team - Stand Up To Cancer

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SU2C–Melanoma Research Alliance
Melanoma Dream Team:
Personalized Medicine for Patients with BRAF Wild-Type (BRAFwt) Cancer

Grant Term: April 2012−June 2017

Melanoma patients have a type of cancer that generally falls into one of two groups, based on a gene call BRAF. The goal of the SU2C–Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) Melanoma Dream Team was to examine the entire set of genetic instructions (called the genome) of metastatic melanoma patients whose tumors do not have mutations in their BRAF gene. The team wanted to understand the characteristics of each patient’s genome in order to select therapies that are more precisely targeted to the individual.

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Patients with metastatic melanoma have a bleak prognosis, with a median survival of six to nine months and a five-year survival rate of about 16%. About half of patients with metastatic melanoma have a mutation in a gene called BRAF in their tumors, and there are approved drugs to help prolong their life. However, the other half of patients have no mutation in the BRAF gene and are said to be BRAF wild type (BRAFwt); very little progress has been made in identifying new drugs to treat them.

The SU2C–MRA Melanoma Dream Team analyzed the genomes of metastatic melanoma patients who are BRAFwt in order to match potentially effective drugs—approved or experimental—to the individual patient. Team members also explored the biological makeup of BRAFwt and BRAF-mutant cancer cells and tested these cells in the laboratory for sensitivity to 100 potential new treatments. Researchers used these data to predict the sensitivity of BRAFwt melanomas to specific drugs and testing these predictions in laboratory studies.

A clinical trial worked to determine whether this personalized approach significantly improved clinical outcome. The goal was a 30% improvement in tumor response relative to the standard of care.


The top scientists and researchers on the SU2C–MRA Melanoma Dream Team come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, which leads them to great insights upon collaboration. Learn more about the SU2C–MRA Melanoma Dream Team.

Team Members

Jeffrey M. Trent, PhD
Translational Genomics Research Institute

Patricia LoRusso, DO
Yale Cancer Center

Joshua LaBaer, MD, PhD
Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University
Principal Investigator

Svetomir Markovic, MD, PhD
Mayo Clinic Rochester
Principal Investigator

Brian J. Nickoloff, MD, PhD
Michigan State University
Principal Investigator

Emanuel F. Petricoin, PhD
George Mason University
Principal Investigator

Neal Rosen, MD, PhD
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
Principal Investigator

Nicholas Schork, PhD
Scripps Research Institute
Principal Investigator

Aleksandar Sekulic, MD, PhD
Mayo Clinic Scottsdale
Principal Investigator

Jeffrey A. Sosman, MD
Vanderbilt University
Principal Investigator

Kristiina Vuori, MD, PhD
Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
Principal Investigator

Cassandra Lucas
Translational Genomics Research Institute
Project Manager

Tracy Bame
Freeport-McMoran Cooper and Gold, Inc.

Mark Gorman
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship

Derrick Hall
Arizona Diamondbacks

Cornelius McGillicuddy III
Liberty Partners Group

Jane Perlmutter
Gemini Group

“Melanoma has been a success story in the past year, but that success affects about half of the patients, at best. We just said, we’ve got to go after that group that just desperately needs our help.”

Jeffrey M. Trent, PhD
Translational Genomics Research Institute


Stand Up To Cancer’s research projects are designed to foster collaborative, swift translational research. The hallmarks of these efforts include rigorous application and selection procedures, sufficient funding to allow scientists to focus on the objectives of the grant, and reviews by senior scientists every six months. These reviews help the investigators capitalize on the latest findings, address potential roadblocks, and collaboratively evolve as the science requires. Please click below to see summaries of the research results so far for the SU2C–MRA Melanoma Dream Team.



Cancer clinical trials allow researchers to study innovative and potentially life-saving new treatments. The goal is to find treatments that are better than what’s currently available; in fact, the therapies offered to today’s cancer patients were almost all studied and made possible by people participating in clinical trials. But many cancer clinical trials aren’t completed because not enough people take part.

At, you’ll find clinical trial information, answers to common questions, and a free clinical trial finder tool.



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