The Research Program

The Program in Dermatopathology at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School is devoted to the tripartite mission of education, service, and research in skin pathology. Research is focused on understanding and controlling mechanisms and pathways responsible for melanoma virulence, with the ultimate goal of bringing discoveries from bench to bedside, in so doing, benefiting those afflicted with this potentially fatal form of skin cancer. The Program's research laboratories are directed by George F. Murphy, M.D., Professor of Pathology at Harvard, and are complemented by talented and devoted junior faculty, post-doctoral fellows, technologists, and administrators. Funded by numerous federal grants, the team continuously strives to expand its existing base in order to accelerate progress and discovery. The Murphy Lab has served as the nucleus of the Harvard Skin Disease Research Center (HSDRC) Morphology and Cell Analysis Core, and is currently the home of the Harvard Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) Biospecimen Access and Analysis Core, providing sophisticated technical resources, professional expertise, and educational programs to basic and clinical investigators, with the goal of further growth and development of skin cancer research.

The Environment

Located in the center of Boston's Longwood Medical Area, The Murphy Lab is based at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, a major teaching resource of the Harvard Medical School. The laboratory facilities are thus within the immediate vicinity of both the Medical and Dental Schools, the School of Public Health, the Dana Farber Cancer Center, Boston's Children's Hospital, the Beth Israel-Deaconess Medical Center, and the Countway Medical Library. The Lab actively collaborates with numerous investigators, both locally and inter-institutionally, the latter including John Hopkins Medical Institutions, the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

The Resources

The faculty and staff of the Murphy Lab have a wide variety of complementary interests and abilities. These include:

Cutting-edge technological approaches utilized routinely in the laboratory include:

Right: The Murphy Research Lab - Eugene Braunwald Research Building

The Challenges

Melanoma is arguably the most virulent neoplasm that occurs in humans, a tumor capable of metastasizing when little larger than a grain of rice. Because melanoma occurs on the skin and therefore is readily subjected to visual and experimental scrutiny, it is an important paradigm for understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of all forms of cancer. Some of the questions in which our Lab is intensely interested are:

The Advances

To this end, we and our collaborators have been fortunate to have made several advances, including:

The Acknowledgements

None of the Lab's activites are possible without active support. In addition to those patients afflicted with melanoma and cutaneous immunity whose tissues have facilitated the advancement of the studies of the Murphy Lab to date, we are also indebted to the following funding venues from the National Institutes of Health: the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute for Arthritis, Muskuloskeletal, and Skin Disease, and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.