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    CPMCRI Welcomes New Investigator Dr. Kevin Kim

    July 21, 2014

    Earlier this summer, Kevin Kim, M.D., joined CPMC’s melanoma program as Director of Clinical Research. Dr. Kim was previously appointed as physician and professor at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. A prominent medical oncologist who is board-certified in internal medicine and medical oncology, Dr. Kim’s research interests are in melanoma, mucosal melanoma, and targeted therapies.

    “We are thrilled to have Dr. Kim join our team and anticipate that his presence will result in significant increases in clinical research and clinical trial activity among the melanoma program's already active research portfolio,” said Mohammed Kashani-Sabet, M.D., CPMCRI Scientist, Medical Director for Cancer Programs and Director of CPMC’s Center for Melanoma Research and Treatment.

    Collaborating with Dr. Kashani-Sabet’s team, Dr. Kim will lead phase 1 and 2 clinical trials investigating the biology of genetic mutations in melanoma, as well as new combinations of targeted and immunotherapies.

    “This is an incredibly exciting time in melanoma research,” said Dr. Kim. “With the advancement of these treatments and our expanding knowledge of biomarkers, we can focus our efforts on bringing novel, more personalized therapies to patients. I am thrilled to collaborate among the renowned expertise of CPMC’s leaders in this area to help further these discoveries.”

    Research into targeted treatments for cancer has rapidly increased over the past 15 years with the discovery that agents including the monoclonal antibody trastuzumab (Herceptin®) could disrupt receptors in a cancer cell’s membrane and stop cellular proliferation, thus halting tumor growth and progression. More recently, small-molecule targeted therapies including BRAF, NRAS, and c-KIT inhibitors against melanoma have significantly improved patients’ prognosis and increased momentum to this area of research.

    “But despite these more intelligent targeted treatments, cancer is incredibly insidious in that a tumor can mutate and become resistant to therapy,” said Dr. Kim. “The goal is to overcome a tumor’s resistance and adaptive capabilities by attacking the cancer at multiple pathways and critical points of cell growth, with a combination therapy.”

    With extensive experience in translational melanoma research into novel molecular targeted therapies, Dr. Kim was an integral part of the early drug development of vemurafenib and dabrafenib (both BRAF inhibitors) and trametinib (a MEK inhibitor), which are now FDA-approved drugs for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma.

    As Director of Clinical Research in the melanoma group and in collaboration with Dr. Kashani-Sabet and others, Dr. Kim will also lead CPMC’s efforts to build a database and tumor bank of tissue samples from patients with melanoma; these will enable new tools to discover characteristics of tumors in patients, to advance personalized therapies.

    Tissue samples from patients with melanoma are being collected from surgeries at CPMC. Research on these samples has already yielded new diagnostic tests for melanoma, including tests that predict which melanomas are most aggressive. Led by Dr. Kashani-Sabet and now with additional leadership from Dr. Kim, the melanoma group hopes to use samples from all stages of the disease to uncover the genetic signatures that govern disease progression.

    Dr. Kim received his M.D. from the University of Illinois in Chicago. He completed residency training in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and a fellowship in medical oncology/hematology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.