SCI - Seed Grants

The clinicians and researchers at the Skin Cancer Institute are committed to generating new ideas about skin cancer etiology, prevention and treatment, and then translating these ideas and discoveries from the laboratory into the clinic and into the community. We are also committed to growing new, successful researchers. A skin cancer-free future requires planning today for new ideas and trained researchers. These ideas and these researchers need research dollars and a supportive environment to flourish.

The ‘Skin Cancer Seed Grant Research’ competition is designed to help University of Arizona researchers test novel ideas for prevention, detection or treatment of melanoma and other skin cancers. These proposals are small grants designed to be ‘seeds’ to help new research ideas grow into larger research proposals that can be competitive for national funding and to help young investigators grow their careers. 


The 2023 round is closed. Come back soon to see this year's winners.


Announcing the 2022 seed grant winners:

Abhijit Date, PhD

"Reformulating Phenformin to Improve its Repurposing for Melanoma Therapy"

In this project, we propose to develop new but cost-effective nanotechnology to reformulate phenformin and to improve its repurposing for melanoma therapy.

Leslie Dennis, PhD, MS

"How Vendor vs Recalled Residential Histories Compare as Environmental Markers of UVR"

Using vendor supplied residential histories may alleviate the expense and effort needed to collect detailed recalled residential histories in cancer studies.

Sally Dickinson, PhD

"PD-L1 as a Target for Topical Photochemoprevention"

Our overall goal is to characterize whether PD-L1 (a protein found in higher-than-normal amounts on some types of cancer cells) may be a good target for topical pharmacological skin cancer prevention.


2021 Skin Cancer Research Seed Grant recipients

Dylan Miller, MPH

"A Pilot Study of Personal UVR Dosimeters in NCAA Athletes"

This proposed work will lay the groundwork for a larger study by examining the feasibility and short-term efficacy of the use of personal UVR dosimeters among athletes as well as provide exposure data to support planning of a larger behavioral intervention.

Edgar Tapia, PhD candidate

"Genomics Pilot Study for Targeting Prevention of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer"

The objective of this proposal is to conduct a pilot study to support the inclusion of genomics analysis to validate the relevance of the TLR4 and TOPK/PRPK signaling pathways in skin carcinogenesis.   


2020 Seed Grant Recipients

Bo Sun, PhD

"A Bi-Adjuvant Nanovaccine for lmmunotherapy of Melanoma"

The objective of my research is to develop nanoparticle-based vaccines to simultaneously deliver melanoma-derived tumor antigens and dual immune adjuvants for immunotherapy of melanoma.


Russell Witte, PhD

"Clinical Photoacoustic Imaging and Spectroscopy for Assessment of Common Cutaneous Lesions"

There is an unmet clinical need for non-invasive assessment of metastatic skin lesions to help with diagnostics and monitoring during therapeutic intervention. Existing imaging methods have either poor penetration, poor resolution, or insufficient specificity to detect cancer, track the spread of metastases, and help guide treatment decisions. This project will address this unmet need by developing, testing and validating a unique photoacoustic imaging and spectroscopy (PAIS) system for rapid assessment of common skin lesions. 



2019 Seed Grant Recipients

Delaney Stratton, NP, PhD

"A pilot, randomized-controlled trial on the efficacy of a microlearning-based skin cancer early detection intervention for primary care nurse practitioners"

The objective of this proposal is to conduct a pilot randomized-controlled trial to test the efficacy of a novel digital educational intervention for PCNPs to improve their early detection skills using a comprehensive clinical skin examination (CSE).

Jin H. Song, PhD

"Role of H19 in epigenetics of melanomas"

The objective of this proposal is to determine the role of H19 (a gene correlated with the agressiveness of melanoma) in melanoma progression. This knowledge will lay the foundation for development of new therapeutic strategies to improve the clinical outcome of melanoma patients. 

Khiem A Tran, PhD

"A Novel Mechanism in the Immune Suppression Repertoire of Metastatic Melanoma"

The object of this proposal is to elucidate the mechanism by which cancer cells evade and/or suppress the immune system. We believe that this mechanism prevents our natural immune system from recognizing or destroying the cells that no longer obey the principles of normal cellular function.


2018 Seed Grant Recipients

Sally Dickinson, PhD

"Mechanistic evaluation of UV-induced stimulation of TLR4 in keratinocytes using genetic and pharmacological means."


Delaney Stratton, RN

"Development and acceptability assessment of a novel, short-burst educational intervention on early skin cancer detection for primary care nurse practitioners."



Georg Wondrak, PhD and Sally Dickinson, PhD

"Novel pharmacological inhibition of UV-induced TLR4 signaling using topical phytochemicals."


2017 Seed Grant Recipient

Paul Myrdal, PhD

"Evaluation of Synthetic Membranes for Screening Topical Skin Cancer Prevention Agents in Diffusion Studies"


2016 Seed Grant Recipients

"Targeting TLR4 in UV-Induced Skin Carcinogenesis"

"GILT as a Prognostic Marker in Primary Melanoma"

"Protocol Development for Massage Therapist Education in Skin Cancer Early

For further information contact: Robin B. Harris, PhD, MPH (Co-Director, Skin Cancer Institute) or 520-626-5357.


Seed grant history

Thanks to the generous support of donors, the Skin Cancer Institute initiated the annual Skin Cancer Seed Grant Research competition in 2010. This competition and funds are designed to help University of Arizona researchers test novel ideas for prevention, detection, or treatment of skin cancer. These small grants are designed to be 'seeds' to help new research ideas grow into larger research proposals that can be competitive for national funding. It is also a way to help young investigators grow their careers and for more experienced investigators to try new research ideas and approaches.

Upon receipt of applications, all proposals are reviewed by experienced researchers from the Cancer Center for: scientific merit, likelihood of publication of results and provision of preliminary data for an external grant, and likelihood of being completed within the one year time frame.


Recipients for 2013-2014

Yira Bermudez, PhD, MBA
"Balancing the Angiogenic Diagnosis Scale for the Early Diagnosis of Melanoma"

Myra Muramoto, MD, MPH
“Preliminary Studies for Massage Therapist Education in Skin Cancer Early Detection and Sun Safety Education”

Joshua Williams PhD
“Assessment of Metformin as a Reactive Scavenger for the Chemoprevention of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer"


Recipients for 2012-2013

Jana Jandova, PhD
"Evaluating the Role of mtDNA Mutations in the Development of Non-melanoma Skin Cancer"

PublicationMutations in BALB mitochondrial DNA induce CCL20 up-regulationpromoting tumorigenic phenotypes

Joanne Jeter, MD
"Dietary Flavonoid Intake and Risk of Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma"
Elizabeth Krupinski, MD, PhD
"Understanding Visual Search Patterns of Dermatologists Assessing Skin Pigmented Lesions"

Recipients for 2010-2011

Jeff Stone, PhD
"An investigation of whether creating hypocrisy about performing sun protection behaviors can engage an individual’s self-regulation process to promote long-term behavior change"

Yira Bermudez, PhD
"Validation of an analytical method to quantify folate species involved in DNA repair and synthesis in human skin and tissue"

Sally Dickinson, PhD
"Potential for sulforaphane to inhibit melanoma metastasis via inhibition of AP- 1 activity"

Robert Krouse, MD
"Prognostic value of karyometry for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma"