Professor Soyer, Director of the Dermatology Research Centre, was recently awarded an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence for the Study of Naevi.
This collaborative project involves the following Chief Investigators: Professor H. Peter Soyer (UQ DRC), Professor Adele Green (QIMR Berghofer), Professor Joanne Aitken (Cancer Council QLD), Professor Scott Menzies (The Uni of Sydney), Associate Professor Richard Sturm (UQ DRC), Dr David Duffy (QIMR Berghofer), Professor Monika Janda (QUT), Associate Professor Tarl Prow (UQ DRC), Associate Professor Helmut Schaider (UQ DRC).
Most melanomas grow adjacent to or within pre-existing benign neoplasms of the skin called naevi. Many studies have shown that the number of naevi on an individual predicts their risk of developing melanoma. New naevi form and existing ones change regularly in children and also adults. While previous work aimed to reduce the burden of melanoma has focussed on malignant tumours, much can be learned from increasing our understanding of tumorigenesis by studying benign tumours such as naevi.
Visually, few differences exist between benign and early stage malignant skin tumours, and also biologically they show almost all cellular features that are essential characteristics of malignancy, including increased proliferation rates, avoidance or low response to tumour suppressors, evasion of programmed apoptosis or destruction by natural killer cells. This CRE will be internationally unique through its focus on tumorigenesis by studying naevi from epidemiological, clinical, molecular, genetic, dermoscopic and personal behavioural scientific viewpoints.
The CRE is highly relevant to Australia which has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world. The combined collaborative research conducted will generate entirely new knowledge on the epidemiology and genetics of naevi, the naevi life cycle and its interdependence with early detection of melanoma. This work will improve melanoma risk prediction and early detection methods and guidelines, lead to technological advances and patents, and professional development activities, all with the ultimate outcome of improved melanoma early detection and survival.