Archives     Advertise     Editorial Calendar     Subscribe     Contact Us    


Dr. Meredith McKean Brings New Hope, More Options for Melanoma Patients


 

It's a long way from rural Iowa to Nashville, but Meredith McKean, MD, MPH, has navigated it well, with a few stops in between. In June, McKean was named among the newest research faculty members at Sarah Cannon Research Institute at Tennessee Oncology, where she oversees Sarah Cannon's growing Melanoma Research Program. In her role, McKean investigates innovative therapies in clinical trials, caring for patients facing melanoma.

"I always loved science growing up and was interested in natural science since that's what I was exposed to growing up on a farm," McKean said. A middle school genetics camp at the University of Iowa solidified that passion and served as her first exposure to the science behind cancer and inheritable diseases.

"Looking back at my essays for scholarships, I always said I wanted to cure cancer," she noted. "I thought I'd do it in a lab, but then I recognized the opportunity as a physician to be able to develop clinical trials for patients and to be able to care for them. It was an evolution that occurred through my training."

McKean received her bachelor's degree from Iowa State University, where the promising athlete ran cross-country and track. She continued her education at the University of Iowa, earning her medical degree along with a Master's of Public Health. During medical school, McKean's research in the heart failure and heart transplant program focused on building a tissue bank and analyzing tissue for proteins predictive of patient survival.

Following an internal medicine residency at the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus, where she examined male breast cancer tissue for molecular drivers, McKean completed her fellowship in Hematology-Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. During fellowship, McKean studied biomarkers for response to immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) in metastatic melanoma, earning her an American Society of Clinical Oncology 2017 Young Investigator Award.

"My background gave me a good understanding of how to set up clinical trials and evaluate samples from patients and to try to predict who will respond," she said. "I learned to look for early signals of resistance to treatment, and that's helpful as a clinical trials investigator."

While studying various tumor types at MD Anderson, McKean found her time in melanoma research to be the most meaningful. "It's exciting that over the last several years there have been newer agents developed - targeted therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors - with additional therapies continuing to be investigated," she said. "I saw how important it would be to say ahead of time who will respond to immunotherapy and who won't. That's the next big challenge in melanoma, as in a lot of tumors: Whose immune system needs additional treatment to recognize and attack cancer?"

At Sarah Cannon, McKean and her team focus on identifying genetic drivers of each person's individual cancer through a personalized medicine approach. She said Sarah Cannon's Melanoma Program continues to develop, and she appreciates the organization's enthusiasm for growing the clinical trial offering for patients. Sarah Cannon currently offers melanoma trials for phases 1 to 3, with plans to open up more opportunities for patients.

"Melanoma was the first tumor that immune checkpoint inhibitors were approved in, so it's really a breeding ground for understanding what other treatments we need to add to immunotherapy to make cancers respond to treatment," McKean explained. "Sarah Cannon is well poised to advance the field of melanoma treatment in a significant way."

Prior to approval of immune checkpoint inhibitors in 2011, the five-year survival rate for stage 4 metastatic melanoma was less than 15 percent. Thanks to ICI and targeted therapies, today's five-year prognosis is closer to 30-40 percent. "There have been significant strides, but we need to find options for patients who aren't responding to initial therapies," McKean said. She also believes primary care providers and dermatologists play an important role in catching cancer in its earlier, more treatable stage, and urges providers to educate patients about spots that are changing color, bleeding or irritated.

McKean is now working with investigators nationwide, and plans to open more melanoma trials throughout the Sarah Cannon network. "When I was looking for a position after my fellowship, I was looking at academically centered programs, and what was appealing about Sarah Cannon was the mission," she said. "I'm from rural Iowa, so I loved that the goal was to take these trials out to patients in the community setting. Our network is a team full of great oncologists who are providing treatment in their communities. The patients really are put first, and it feels like a family."

WEB:

Sarah Cannon

 
Share:

Related Articles:


Recent Articles

Amidst Growing Measles Outbreaks, AMA Urges Public to Get Vaccinated

Reminds physicians to discuss the safety and efficacy of vaccines with patients, as well as educate them on health risks associated with not vaccinating children

Read More

Pivotal Clinical Trial Investigates New Technology for Managing Uncontrolled Hypertension

Read More

The Biggest Threats to Public Health

Noted public health expert Dr. William Schaffner shares insights on three of his top public health threats.

Read More

Covering Kids

A new study finds higher rates of uninsured children in Tennessee and other non-expansion states.

Read More

Severe Asthma Disparities

A recent study found racial disparities in ED usage for severe asthma become statistically insignificant when factoring out socioeconomic elements, paving the way for more emphasis on differences in community than biology.

Read More

Mark Your Calendar for Music City SCALE

The 14th Annual Music City SCALE meeting featuring up to 22 hours of CME for medical practitioners is set for May 9-11 at the Music City Center.

Read More

Public Health Happens in the Community ... Not Just the Clinic

Public health continues to lead the way to eliminate health disparities and create a system that focuses not just on the absence of illness but the promotion of wellbeing.

Read More

Gum Disease and Tooth Loss Associated With Higher Risk of Pancreatic Cancer in African-American Women

Poor oral health was associated with increased risk of pancreatic cancer in African-American women.

Read More

A New Vision for Safety Net Care

After 14 months of study, the Indigent Care Stakeholder Work Team has released their vision for safety net care in Nashville.

Read More

Modern Healthcare & Critical Connections Present Social Determinants of Health Symposium

Read More

Email Print
 
 

 

 


Tags:
ASCO Young Investigator Award., Cancer Research, Immune Checkpoint Inhibitors, Immunotherapy, Melanoma, Meredith McKean, Metastatic Melanoma, Personalized Medicine, Sarah Cannon, Sarah Cannon Research Institute, Tennessee Oncology
Powered by Bondware
News Publishing Software

The browser you are using is outdated!

You may not be getting all you can out of your browsing experience
and may be open to security risks!

Consider upgrading to the latest version of your browser or choose on below: