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Inaugural Byers Young Investigator Conference

Apr 19 2019

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20/20 Blog

Palo Alto, CA — Mahajan lab members Gabriel Velez and Teja Chemudupati presented their latest research on choroidal melanoma at the 2019 Inaugural Byers Young Investigator Research Conference. Research topics included clinical trials, digital health, and basic translational research. 

Teja, a clinical research coordinator working with Dr. Mahajan M.D., Ph.D. and Dr. Prithvi Mruthyunjaya M.D., presented a talk titled “Choroidal Melanoma Vitreous Biopsies from Bedside to Bench.” He discussed the clinical characteristics of choroidal melanoma and how tissue collection is aiding Stanford researchers in their search for new therapies for the disease. Choroidal melanoma is the most common primary intraocular tumor that is effectively controlled locally with either radiation or enucleation. However, approximately 50% of patients develop metastatic disease, for which there are no effective treatments. 

Teja explained how the research team uses the Mobile Operating Room Laboratory Interface (MORLI), a novel device developed by Dr. Mahajan, and the informatics system that links the operating room with the research laboratory. 

“The MORLI allows for standardized collection of ophthalmic surgical specimens in the operating room, which maintains the integrity of these samples for downstream proteomic analysis,” Dr. Mruthyunjaya emphasized. “It allows us to perform advanced molecular analyses right in the operating room.”

Gabe, an M.D., Ph.D. student, discussed the team’s recent proteomic analysis on eye fluid from choroidal melanoma patients. Researchers characterized the eye fluid protein expression using two separate proteomic platforms: a multiplex ELISA array and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. 

 “By the time metastatic disease is identified on an MRI scan”, Gabe said, “it is too late.” We are working to identify novel circulating biomarkers that detect the presence of metastatic disease faster, so we can better treat these patients earlier.”

In addition to identifying several candidate protein biomarkers for choroidal melanoma, the Stanford team also proposed existing drugs that might benefit choroidal melanoma patients.

Dr. Mahajan said, “This is an exciting time for the department of ophthalmology under the leadership of Chairman Jeff Goldberg M.D., Ph.D. As a physician scientist, Dr. Goldberg understands the importance of research and development in relation to patient care. Every new research finding brings us a little closer to our goal of providing precision medicine cures to all of our patients.”

The conference was coordinated by Dr. Quan Dong Nguyen, professor of ophthalmology at the Stanford University Medical Center, and organized by ophthalmology postdoctoral research fellows Muhammad Hassan and Muhammad Sohail Halim. 

Research donations fund projects aimed at finding new therapies for hard to treat diseases.

To learn more about choroidal melanoma care at Stanford, click here. Stanford hosts a 5K run walk fundraiser for choroidal melanoma.