Roswell Park Graduate Student Earns Research Scholar Award from Nicolay Foundation

Contact: Annie Deck-Miller, Senior Media Relations Manager

Roswell Park Graduate Student Earns Research Scholar Award from Nicolay Foundation

BUFFALO, NY — Maryann Mikucki, a pre-doctoral trainee in the Department of Immunology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), has received a Research Scholar Award from the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation (JMNMF). As part of the JMNMF’s ongoing support for promising graduate students at major academic cancer centers, the competitive award includes a $10,000 grant toward Mikucki’s research on melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

Mikucki is working toward a joint MD/PhD degree from the University at Buffalo (UB) and the Roswell Park Graduate Division of UB. One of nine graduate students to receive the awards this year, she works under the direction of Sharon S. Evans, PhD, whose internationally recognized laboratory investigates checkpoints controlling mobilization of blood-borne T cells to tissues during immune responses.

“The work I’ll be performing with the Nicolay grant aims to understand the mechanism by which tumor cells interfere with delivery of toxic T cells to melanoma tumor tissues, allowing them to evade destruction,” noted Mikucki, a native of Danbury, CT, who now lives in Amherst, NY. “These proof-of-concept studies are expected to uncover a novel mechanism of melanoma resistance to T cell-based immunotherapy and also lay the foundations for translational research.”

“Our Foundation’s Research Scholar Awards are invaluable at the grassroots level, to specifically grow interest in melanoma research at qualified cancer centers across the country,” said Robert E. Nicolay, JMNMF Chairman. “If we can attract the brightest minds that are considering, or already within, the nation’s cancer research pipelines, to pursue a career in melanoma research, we’re that much closer to better understanding the disease, identifying the means for effective treatments and, most importantly, finding a cure for this deadly and very prevalent disease.”

The Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation is a nonprofit public charity founded in January 2004 to foster melanoma education, advocacy and research. In just eight years, the Foundation has grown dramatically to become an influential voice in the melanoma community and is now established as a national, and international, “voice for melanoma prevention, detection, care and cure.”

The mission of Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) is to understand, prevent and cure cancer. RPCI, founded in 1898, was one of the first cancer centers in the country to be named a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center and remains the only facility with this designation in Upstate New York. The Institute is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation’s leading cancer centers; maintains affiliate sites; and is a partner in national and international collaborative programs. For more information, visit RPCI’s website at, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or email


Editor’s note: Photo caption, from left: Kelvin Lee, MD, Chair of the Department of Immunology, Sharon Evans, PhD, research mentor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Immunology, Nicolay Award winner Maryann Mikucki and Richard Hershberger, PhD, MBA, Chief Academic Officer.