Salama Receives NCI Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award

October 2, 2017
By: Julie Poucher Harbin, Writer, DCI

April Salama, MD, interim director of Duke Cancer Institute’s Melanoma Program, has been named a recipient of one of ten 2017 National Cancer Institute Cancer Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Awards. 

“Dr. Salama has advanced the melanoma clinical research program at Duke Cancer Institute, where her goal has been to continue to expand the breadth of collaborations both within and outside of the institution,” said director of Duke Cancer Institute, Michael Kastan, MD, PhD, who nominated Salama for the award. “Under her leadership, the melanoma clinical trials program has often been recognized as a leading site for patient accrual in a number of landmark melanoma trials.”

Established in 2009, the intent of the award is to help retain investigators in academic clinical research settings. Each recipient is a full-time faculty member who is a board-certified clinician and has practiced medicine three-to-ten-years post-fellowship. Candidates are nominated by their institute or center directors based on “qualifications, interests, accomplishments and motivation, and the nominee's intent and ability to promote a successful clinical research culture and to pursue an academic career in clinical research.”

According to NCI, these awards “recognize and support outstanding mid-career clinical investigators at NCI-Designated Cancer Centers who are working to improve the lives of people with cancer through extensive involvement in NCI-funded collaborative clinical trials and whose leadership, participation and activities promote clinical trials and research.”

Salama’s research interests focus on the development of novel therapeutics for patients with advanced melanoma. She has developed a number of investigator initiated clinical protocols, with a focus on multi-modality care. She was recently selected to serve as the national co-principal investigator of the dabrafenib/trametinib arm (EAY-131H) of the NCI-MATCH trial, and is the site PI for the NCI-MATCH trial at Duke.

Within DCI and the Duke University School of Medicine, Salama serves in many roles, including as a member of the Immunotherapy Working Group, Cancer Protocol Committee, and the Duke Institutional Review Board. An assistant professor of medicine, Salama has been recognized as an outstanding teacher, and is invited to give lectures on therapeutic options for advanced melanoma at the local, regional and national level. Most recently she was selected by the Duke Hematology/Oncology Fellows as the recipient of the William H. Kane Junior Faculty Teaching Award.

The NCI award provides partial salary support for two years to engage in activities and efforts related to the award, with the requirement that Salama devote at least 15 percent effort to the activities associated with this award.

Salama plans to continue to work to expand clinical trial options for patients with advanced melanoma, as well as focus on community outreach and education for patients and caregivers.

“This award means a lot to me because it will allow me to continue to help others with their work, not just in medical oncology, but our colleagues in surgery and dermatology as well,” she said.

The awards were officially announced by James Doroshow, MD, NCI’s deputy director for Clinical and Translational Research, at the NCI Clinical Trials and Translational Research Advisory Committee (CTAC) meeting on July 12.