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Yuhang Zhang, PhD, and Zalfa Abdel-Malek, PhD

Yuhang Zhang, PhD, and Zalfa Abdel-Malek, PhD

Assistant professor in the James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy
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Publish Date: 05/22/14
Media Contact: Katie Pence, 513-558-4561
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Zhang Receives Funding from Melanoma Research Alliance

Recently, the Cincinnati Cancer Center awarded over $200,000 in pilot grants to members and basic research scientists who are collaborating to find out more about various cancers with hopes of generating more data and additional funding.

Just weeks after the announcement that Yuhang Zhang, PhD, was selected as the recipient of a $19,640 grant, along with his mentor Zalfa Abdel-Malek, PhD, to research ways to treat melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, these initial goals became reality.

The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) awarded an additional $60,000 to co-fund Zhang’s project with the CCC as a Young Investigator Award, researching the roles and functions of fibroblast in melanoma stroma (the framework of the cells) in promoting melanoma development by regulating the expression of a protein called beta-catenin.

Tumor-associated fibroblasts facilitate the growth and migration of melanoma by providing structural and chemical supports.

Additionally, UC’s James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy agreed to supplement this promising research by providing Zhang’s salary support.

The CCC committed with an additional $40,000, bringing the total support to $180,000 over three years.

"As a junior faculty member, these awards are vital for my research career and advancement. I am greatly appreciative,” says Zhang, associate member of the CCC, assistant professor in the Winkle College of Pharmacy and member of the UC Cancer Institute.

"This is an important collaboration and one of which we are happy to take part,” says Neil MacKinnon, PhD, dean of the Winkle College of Pharmacy. "Dr. Zhang is very talented and his research could help in gaining new clinical applications for melanoma treatment.”

Shuk-Mei Ho, PhD, director of the CCC, Jacob G. Schmidlapp Chair of Environmental Health and professor at the UC College of Medicine, agrees.

"We are so happy to be collaborating with the MRA and the Winkle College of Pharmacy to supply this very important funding to Dr. Zhang,” she says. "We hope this support will launch the careers of junior colleagues while helping to expedite some novel research that could uncover new or better ways to study or treat cancers in addition to providing preliminary findings that could lead to federal funding opportunities and support the use of core facilities and shared physical space.”

The University of CincinnatiCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and UC Health have created the Cincinnati Cancer Center—a joint effort designed to leverage the strengths of all three organizations in order to provide the best possible cancer diagnostics, research, treatment, and care for individuals in the Tristate region and the nation. To learn more, visit

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