University of California San Francisco
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

Artificial Intelligence Melanoma Detector Wins Cancer Center Impact Grant

By Nina Bai | | June 19, 2017

Artificial Intelligence Melanoma Detector Wins Cancer Center Impact Grant

Maria Wei, MD, PhD, presents her team's project about an artificial intelligence-based skin cancer screening tool during the Cancer Center Impact Grants competition on June 14. Photo by Emily Scannell

A proposal for an artificial intelligence-based skin cancer screening tool won the 2017 Cancer Center Impact Grant, a $250,000 award to support high-risk, high-reward research projects that are unlikely to be funded by conventional sources.

The Cancer Center Impact Grant, which provides $250,000 over two years, was launched last year by the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center to encourage novel, impactful studies that address a key problem in cancer. Any member of the UC San Francisco community, including students, staff and faculty, were eligible to apply.

“We want this to stimulate new ideas,” said Alan Ashworth, PhD, FRS, president of the UCSF Cancer Center, in his opening remarks at the event. “We acknowledge the fact that you might fail. The only way you get big reward is with big risk. This scheme is to try and do the not blindingly obvious and really do something unusual that will make a big impact.”

Five Impact Grant Finalists

Catherine Carbone; Nadja Kern; Meghan Morrissey, PhD; Xiaolei Su, PhD; and Adam Williamson, PhD
Engineering cross presentation to promote anti-cancer immunity

Hal Chapman, MD
Dietary trihydroxy polyphenols as agents to attenuate cancer invasiveness and metastasis by cell-selective targeting of LOXL2 and TGFB1

Pao-Tien Chuang, MD, PhD
A new approach to identify functional mutations in individual lung cancer patients

Scott Oakes, MD; and Ed Roberts, PhD
Using the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) to Unmask Tumor Antigens

Maria Wei, MD, PhD; and Robert Judson, PhD; and Michael Keiser, PhD
Harnessing artificial intelligence & molecular diagnostics for rapid and accurate melanoma screening and diagnosis

The winning project was presented by Maria Wei, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology; Robert Judson, PhD, Sandler Fellow in dermatology; and Michael Keiser, PhD, assistant professor in the Institute of Neurodegenerative Diseases. Their team was among five finalists chosen to present their proposals in a live “Shark Tank”-style pitch event held June 14.

From an initial pool of 50 applications, including teams and individuals, five finalists were selected to give five-minute presentations and take 15 minutes of questions from the audience in Byers Auditorium. A judging panel of UCSF faculty was interspersed throughout the audience but remained anonymous during the event.