The Society for Melanoma Research has awarded its Outstanding Research Award 2023 to Professor Richard White, Principal Investigator at Ludwig Cancer Research Oxford. The award is presented to individuals or groups who have made highly impactful, major discoveries in the field of melanoma within the last 5 years.
Prof White joined Ludwig Cancer Research Oxford in 2022. His studies have established a novel paradigm in cancer research, which is called ‘oncogenic competence.’ This is the idea that only certain cells are competent to respond to a given set of DNA alterations, while other cells are impervious to the same mutations. Using a zebrafish model of melanoma, his lab found that a class of developmental genes known as neural crest specifiers can endow a cell with the competence to form a tumour.
His work is centred on understanding how cancer cells co-opt and use programmes commonly deployed during embryonic development. His group has made fundamental discoveries about how neural crest programmes in melanoma affect response to oncogenes, how the anatomic position of the cell determines which oncogenes the cell responds to, and how microenvironmental cells such as adipocytes can promote metastasis.
Prof White and his team have made fundamental discoveries about how neural crest programmes in melanoma affect response to oncogenes and how microenvironmental cells can promote metastasis. We are delighted that his achievements have been recognised in this announcement.