Posted on October 01, 2018
In October 2018, Kevin Brown, Ph.D., was awarded scientific tenure by the NIH and promoted to senior investigator in the Laboratory of Translational Genomics. Dr. Brown’s research is focused on identifying cancer genetic susceptibility loci and the functional pathways through which they affect risk, primarily for melanoma.
Dr. Brown has pioneered successful approaches to the identification and characterization of rare high-penetrance mutations in melanoma-prone families, including his seminal discovery of MITF as a susceptibility gene. He also explores the genetic basis of common germline variants conferring risk of melanoma and kidney cancer and is actively involved in ongoing melanoma genome-wide association study (GWAS) efforts within DCEG and through the International Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL). Overall, he has contributed to the identification of most of the 20 known melanoma GWAS risk loci.
Beyond identification of germline risk loci through GWAS, Dr. Brown’s lab investigates the function of the associated variants. Of particular note is his work characterizing the PARP1 melanoma locus. Not only did he identify the functional risk variant at 1q42.1 locus and define mechanistically how it acts to influence gene expression, but through a series of experiments in primary cultures he was able to functionally link PARP1 to cell growth, transformation, escape from oncogene-induced senescence, and unexpectedly, transcriptional regulation of a key melanoma oncogene.