Suzanne Topalian, MD, Recognized for Pioneering Work in Immunotherapy Treatment of Melanoma and Other Cancers

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Suzanne Topalian, MD

The Melanoma Research Alliance has reported that Suzanne Topalian, MD, Chair of the group’s Scientific Advisory Panel, and former Chief Scientific Officer, has been named one of 10 people in science who mattered in 2014 by the Nature International Weekly Journal of Science.

Dr. Topalian was cited for her pioneering work in cancer immunotherapy, which has resulted thus far in approval of three new drug therapies for treating melanoma patients, and with possible applications for
other cancers.

Dr. Topalian is Professor of Surgery and Oncology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Director, Melanoma Program, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baltimore.  She was the first Chief Science Officer for the Melanoma Research Alliance, a position she held until 2 years ago when she became Head of the organization’s Scientific Advisory Panel.

From Theory to Breakthrough

“All of us at [Melanoma Research Alliance] who work with Dr. Topalian are terrifically excited about her well-deserved recognition, and especially because we know the effort and determination that went into her research that is now yielding a hopeful means of combating and extending the life of patients with melanoma, one of the fastest-growing cancers,” said Wendy Selig, CEO and President of the Melanoma Research Alliance. “That immunotherapy at long last seems to be coming into its own, with possible application for other cancers, especially lung cancer, is a testament to her commitment to a theory that is now widely accepted as a major cancer treatment breakthrough.”

Nature wrote that Dr. Topalian as a clinician “always believed that cancer immunotherapy would work—and she was right.”1 

About Melanoma Research Alliance

Melanoma Research Alliance is a public charity formed in 2007 under the auspices of the Milken Institute, with the generous founding support of Debra and Leon Black.  The group has dedicated more than $60 million to research seeking to better prevent, diagnose, and treat melanoma.  For more information, please visit ■


 1. Ledford H: 365 days: Nature’s 10. Nature 516:311-319, 2014.