Public Release: 

$1 million grant to RI Hospital M.D. for primary care melanoma screening training program

Lifespan

Providence, RI - Rhode Island Hospital dermatologist Martin Weinstock, MD, PhD, has received a $1 million, 2-year Team Science Award grant from the Melanoma Research Alliance to serve as principal investigator to develop a training program for primary care physicians to improve melanoma screening in primary care. The goal is to develop a web-based training module that will lead to earlier detection of melanoma and ultimately reduce the number of melanoma deaths by half.

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 68,720 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the United States this year. While melanoma accounts for only about five percent of all skin cancer cases, it has by far a much higher mortality rate than the more common types.

Weinstock, who is also a professor of dermatology at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, says, "Conventional education programs have stabilized mortality rates, however, an increasing body of evidence indicates that effective early detection is our best hope for cutting melanoma deaths by at least half in the near future." He continues, "We need to change our methods to get a substantial reduction in deaths."

He notes that knowledge and skills for melanoma screening remain low in the primary care area and performance of thorough skin self-examinations also remains low. The grant from the Melanoma Research Alliance will allow Weinstock and other researchers to develop a new training program that will target these issues. He says, "Through this grant, we are now able to develop an early detection training program that is web-based for widespread use and grounded in the realities of primary care delivery. We believe the program we are developing will allow a quantum leap in interactivity compared to prior efforts in melanoma screening."

The training will also incorporate the use of dermoscopy, the use of a specialized microscope to examine skin lesions, into the realm of primary care, something that is rarely used today despite its proven ability to improve accuracy of examinations.

Weinstock, who is also a physician with University Dermatology, adds, "We've developed a diverse team from multiple institutions with expertise and experience in the early detection of melanoma to develop medical education for cancer prevention, interventions with a variety of clinicians, screening and web-based instruction.

Once the module is developed, Weinstock and the researchers will work with primary care physicians in institutions within a cancer research network beginning in Detroit and California. The module will be tested so that a standardized, effective training program can then be rolled out to primary care physicians nationally.

"Clearly, our goal is to reduce deaths from melanoma. We believe that primary care physicians are our best defense and, with the right training, this goal can become reality."

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Other researchers who will work with Weinstock to develop the training program include Maryam Asgari, MD, MPH., Kaiser Foundation Research Institute; Melody Eide, MD, MPH, Henry Ford Health System; Suzanne Fletcher, MD, MSc, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Harvard Medical School; Alan Geller, RN, MPH, Harvard School of Public Health; and Allan Halpern, MD, MS, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

About the Melanoma Research Alliance: The Melanoma Research Alliance is a public charity formed under the auspices of the Milken Institute, with the initial generous founding support of Debra and Leon Black. It supports an international, cross-disciplinary group of biomedical researchers possessing clinical and scientific expertise to explore, identify, and pursue innovative solutions to critical research issues leading to better treatments and a cure for patients with melanoma. For more information, please visit: www.melanomaresearchalliance.org

About Rhode Island Hospital: Founded in 1863, Rhode Island Hospital (www.rhodeislandhospital.org) in Providence, RI, is a private, not-for-profit hospital and is the largest teaching hospital of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. A major trauma center for southeastern New England, the hospital is dedicated to being on the cutting edge of medicine and research. Many of its physicians are recognized as leaders in their respective fields of cancer, cardiology, diabetes, emergency medicine and trauma, neuroscience, orthopedics, pediatrics, radiation oncology and surgery. Rhode Island Hospital receives nearly $50 million each year in external research funding. It is home to Hasbro Children's Hospital, the state's only facility dedicated to pediatric care, which is ranked among the top 30 children's hospitals in the country by Parents magazine. Rhode Island Hospital is a founding member of the Lifespan health system.

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