Clara N Curiel-Lewandrowski, MD

Professor, Medicine
Director, Cutaneous Oncology Program
Division Chief of Dermatology
Co-Director, Skin Cancer Institute 
Phone Number: 
(520) 626-5351
Professional Bio: 

Dr. Clara Curiel’s research interests are in photobiology, early skin cancer detection, biomarker development, and primary prevention. She has taken the initiative to address important clinical gaps in the skin cancer prevention field through innovative clinical study designs, and effective execution of clinical studies. She has served as a lead dermatologist in eight clinical studies and as a PI in seven clinical trials (4 pilot, 3 Phase 1, and 3 Phase 2 studies, 1 phase 3 study) as part of the UA NCI/DCP Cancer Chemoprevention Consortium Agreement, PO1 Skin Cancer Prevention studies, and sponsored studies.

Dr. Curiel’s clinical experience in skin cancer is highlighted by the completion of a fellowship in skin photobiology at Wellman Laboratories of Photomedicine/ Massachusetts General Hospital and a tumor biology fellowship at The Ludwig Boltzman Institute in Germany, followed by a residency training in Dermatology at the combined Boston University /TUFTS program and a skin cancer clinical fellowship. Subsequently, she have successfully executed a leading role for the past sixteen years as a Co-Director of two Multidisciplinary Cutaneous Oncology Programs (COP) (BIDMC/HMS and UACC), as a Director of two specialized Pigmented Lesion Clinics (PLC) (BIDMC/HMS and UACC), and most recently as the Clinical Director of the UACC/Skin Cancer Institute. Both the COP and PLC clinical activities have been integrated with translational research studies, making them a unique setting for high-quality patient care and a critical resource for accrual into clinical studies and establishment of patient registries and tissue bank. Through local and national collaborations with colleagues leading similar efforts, we are able to identify and address as dermatologists critical gaps in the skin cancer field through multi-institutional studies, consensus and opinion statements to guide future investigations.

Within the area of skin cancer prevention, she has extensively led and participated in the development and execution of epidemiological and interventional studies, many of them specifically related to skin cancer chemoprevention studies. She led the first case-control study with more than 400 cases of melanoma at the Harvard Cancer Center indicating a potential role of NSAIDs as a preventive agent. This effort was followed by the first NCI/DCP-funded interventional study to evaluate the safety and tolerability of Sulindac in high-risk nevi phenotypes at risk for melanoma development. She is also one of the founder dermatologists of the Oncology Cooperative/Melanoma Prevention Working Group in 2002 seeking to enhance a multidisciplinary approach nationwide to the increasing need for skin cancer prevention. Dr. Curiel has served as a co-PI on the previously funded Skin Cancer Chemoprevention Program Project Grant at the UACC, and effectively led the completion of the proposed translational studies.

In addition to leading the above mentioned epidemiological and clinical studies, her involvement in the identification and validation of biomarkers and molecular technologies that can be effectively implemented in experimental and clinical studies has been an important focus of her work. Surrogate indicators of disease progression and targeted therapy have been proven to be critical in the effective and innovative design of clinical studies in the skin cancer field.

Another one of her research focuses includes the implementation of imaging and other non-invasive technologies to enhance early skin cancer detection and implementation in experimental and clinical studies. In many instances, interventional prevention studies in skin cancer are strengthened by the combination of novel non-invasive monitoring tools coupled with relevant biomarker assessment. Specifically, she has been engaged in the use of in vivo reflectance confocal microscopy (RCM), optical coherence tomography, epiluminescence microscopy, and spectropolarimetry within the skin cancer field. Most recently, her Program Project Grant team acquired a multilaser RCM instrument for implementation in ongoing actinic keratoses (AKs) studies. They are also in the process of standardizing RCM criteria for the long-term evaluation of photodamaged skin and AKs. Dr. Curiel’s team is also in the process of establishing a photoacoustic clinical prototype for assessment of cutaneous malignancies and other skin conditions.

An additional aspect of her interest in digital imaging is reflected by her leadership role within the International Skin Imaging Collaboration where she co-leads the imaging acquisition working group. The overall objective of this expert group is to lead the standardization of digital imaging in the dermatology field.

Her ongoing research projects include the following:                                                                                

  • Investigation of immune checkpoint expression in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma. Ongoing
  • Pilot study on the signaling pathway modulation effect in the skin of patients undergoing treatment by checkpoint inhibitors. Ongoing
  • Modulation of targeted pathways in the skin by acute solar simulated light in healthy volunteers. Ongoing
  • Implementation of in vivo reflectance confocal microscopy in dermatological conditions. Ongoing
  • Understanding of barriers for implementation of standards in imaging acquisition recommendations. Ongoing
  • Dysplastic nevi and risk of malignant transformation. Analysis underway
  • Understanding the effect of emollient and natural course of actinic keratoses. A randomized study implementing in vivo confocal microscopy and biomarker studies. Analysis underway
  • A Prospective Observational Study of Treatment Patterns and Effectiveness and Safety Outcomes in Advanced Basal Cell Carcinoma and Basal Cell Carcinoma Nevus Syndrome Patients. Analysis underway
  • A Single Arm Phase 2 Study of talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) in patients with cutaneous squamous cell cancer. Expected to open for accrual 1/2018
Research Focus: 

Dr. Curiel's research focus is on melanoma chemoprevention, early detection of melanoma, cutaneous T cell lymphomas and skin cancer.

Selected Publications: 
  1. Curiel R, Perez-Gonzalez JF, Brito N, Zerpa R, Curiel C, Cubeddu L. Positive inotropic effect mediated by alpha-1 adrenoceptor in intact human subjects. J.Cardivasc.Pharmacol. 1989;61:4,603-615
  2. Sznajder JI, Ridge K, Peluffo G, Curiel C, Rutschman D. Alveolar Na/K ATPase activity increases following mechanical ventilation induced pulmonary edema. Chest 1993;103:1765
  3. Khurshid A, Peluffo G, Curiel C, Ridge K, Sznajder JI.   Transcription factors in alveolar type 2 cells, isolated from hyperoxic rats. Am.Rev.Res.Dis. 1993;147. 151
  4. Rosales AM, Curiel C, Pluchino S, Tristano S, Sanchez de Leon R. Effect of furosemide administration in the fluid filtration rate and pulmonary artery pressure in isolated rabbit lung. Act. Cient. Venez 1994;49:1
  5. Curiel C, Martinez R, Pinto V, Rosales AM, Sanchez de Le6n R. Increase in cardiac output and PEEP as mechanism of V/P optimization. Rev. Fisiol. Esp 1995;51 (1), 7-16
  6. Curiel C. Malignant melanoma and active specific immunotherapeutic options. Dermatology & Cosmetics 1998;8:47-57
  7. Curiel C. Atypical fibroxanthoma vs malignant fibrohistiocytoma. Dermatology & Cosmetics 1998; 9: 67-69.
  8. Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Mahnke K, Schmidt W, Labeur M, Schmidt W, Granstein R, Luger T, Schwarz T, Grabbe S. "Transfection of immature bone marrow-derived dendritic cells with the GM-CSF gene potently enhances their in vivo antigen presenting capacity". J Immunol 1999;163(1):174-83
  9. Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Demierre MF. Advances in specific immunotherapy of malignant melanoma. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2000; 43(2):167-188
  10. Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Atkins MB. Immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of malignant melanoma. Invited review. Curr Opin Invest Drugs. 2001 2(11):1553-1563
  11. Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Venna S, Eller MS, Cruikshank W, Cruz PD Jr, Dougherty I, Gilchrest BA. Inhibition of the elicitation phase of contact hypersensitivity by thymidine dinucleotides is in part mediated by increased expression of interleukin-10 in human keratinocytes. Exp Dermatol. 2003 Apr;12(2):145-52.
  12. Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Nijsten T, Kadin M.Lymphomatoid papulosis in childhood: An epidemiological study. Arch Dermatol. 2004 Mar;140(3):306-12.
  13. Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Williams CM, Swindells KJ, Tahan SR Astner S, Frankenthaler RA, Gonzales S. Use of in Vivo Confocal Microscopy In Malignant Melanoma: An aid in diagnosis, and assessment of surgical and non-surgical therapeutic approaches. Arch Dermatol. 2004 Sep;140(9):1127-32.
  14. Adams AE, Zwicker J, Curiel C, Kadin ME, Falchuk KR, Drew R, Kupper TS. Aggressive cutaneous T-cell lymphomas after TNFalpha blockade.J Am Acad Dermatol. 2004 Oct;51(4):660-2.
  15. Li FP, Fletcher JA, Heinrich MC, Garber JE, Sallan SE, Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Duensing A, van de Rijn M, Schnipper LE, Demetri GD. Familial gastrointestinal stromal tumor syndrome: phenotypic and molecular features in a kindred. J Clin Oncol. 2005 Apr 20;23(12):2735-43.
  16. Einspahr JG, Thomas TM, Saboda K, Nickoloff BJ, Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Warneke JW, Bozzo P, Fruehauf JP, Alberts DS. Expression of VEGF and microvessel density counts in cutaneous melanocytic lesion progression. Cancer 2007 110(11):2519-27.
  17. Einspahr J, Bowden GT, Alberts DS, McKenzie N, Saboda K, Warneke J, Salasche S, Ranger-Moore J, Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Nagle RB, Nickoloff BJ, Brooks C, Dong Z, Stratton SP. Cross-validation of murine UVB signal transduction pathways in human skin. Photochem Photobiol. 2008;84(2):363-476
  18. Loescher LJ, Crist JD, Cranmer L, Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Warneke JA. Melanoma high-risk families’ perceived healthcare provider risk communications. Journal of Cancer Education, 24(4).
  19. Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Speetzen LS, Cranmer L, Warneke J, Loescher L. A case report of Li Fraumeni syndrome resulting in five malignant melanomas: clinico-pathological features of this rare entity and review of the literature. Submitted 2009.
  20. Rice ZP, Weiss F, DeLong LK, Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Chen SC. Utilization and rationale for use of total body photography and total body digital photography as an adjunct screening measure in patients at risk for melanoma. Submitted 2009.
  21. Hu S, Kim CC, Jessup C, Phung TL, Curiel-Lewandrowski C. Primary cutaneous melanomas presenting as inflamed pigmented lesions during adjuvant interferon treatment:an important diagnostic clue for clinicians Arch Dermatol. 2009 May;145(5):565-8.
  22. Curiel-Lewandrowski C, GomezML, Kadin M. Lymphomatoid papulosis prevalence in middle age women and the role of michrochinerism. Letterto the editor JID.  Submitted 2009.
  23. Curiel-Lewandrowski C, Gomez ML, Nijsten T, Stern RS. Case control study on melanoma chemoprevention: the role of statins and NSAIDS. Accrual completed 6/07 (400 cases/600 controls). Journal of Clinical Oncology. Submitted 7/09