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Michael Sargen Appointed Assistant Clinical Investigator

, by DCEG Staff

Michael Sargen, Assistant Clinical Investigator

Michael R. Sargen, M.D., was appointed Assistant Clinical Investigator in the Clinical Genetics Branch (CGB) in May 2021. Dr. Sargen investigates the clinical, histologic, and epidemiologic characterization of skin cancers, and since joining DCEG in 2018, has served as the lead physician of the Melanoma Family Study at the NIH. In his new role, Dr. Sargen will develop a translational program focused on understanding the etiology of skin cancer and accelerating the development of clinical trials. 

As a clinical fellow, Dr. Sargen conducted transdisciplinary research studies to identify novel risk factors for sebaceous carcinoma, an aggressive skin cancer with rising incidence in the U.S. Using the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results cancer registries, Dr. Sargen led a study that found an association between sebaceous carcinoma incidence and ambient ultraviolet radiation. In addition, Dr. Sargen and colleagues found solid organ transplant recipients in the Transplant Cancer Match Study had a 25-fold increased risk for sebaceous carcinoma. In a recently published literature review, he and colleagues presented recommendations for screening and management of sebaceous carcinoma in high-risk populations. 

Dr. Sargen broadened his research to studies on melanoma, which has been linked to pathogenic germline variants in CDKN2A and CDK4 genes. Recently, he found that members of melanoma-prone families with a CDKN2A or CDK4 mutation are more likely to develop melanoma on chronic and intermittent sun-exposed skin compared to members of melanoma-prone families without a mutation. Dr. Sargen also characterized the histology of melanomas in melanoma-prone families in the U.S., Italy, and Spain, and identified an association between pathogenic germline POT1 variants and Spitzoid morphology, a rare histologic feature typically seen in pediatric or adolescent melanocytic tumors. 

As an Assistant Clinical Investigator, Dr. Sargen aims to expand his studies to determine the genetic and environmental risk factors of skin cancer, characterize the clinical and histologic phenotype of melanoma susceptibility syndromes, and identify cancer driver genes and biomarkers of rare melanoma subtypes, sebaceous carcinoma, and other skin cancers for clinical trial development. 

Dr. Sargen earned his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He completed a residency in dermatology at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, and a fellowship in dermatopathology at Stanford University, California. 

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