Lauren A. Dalvin, M.D.
Why did you choose to study clinical and translational research?
I am the first full-time, fellowship-trained ocular oncologist at Mayo Clinic and have the privilege of caring for patients with eye cancer in our region and across the world. The most common cancer I treat in adults is uveal melanoma, which can involve the iris, ciliary body or choroid. Unfortunately, even when the melanoma in the eye is successfully treated, about half of the patients will still see cancer spread to other parts of their body called metastasis. Fewer than one in five patients will respond to treatment for metastatic disease, and we currently have no FDA-approved medications to prevent metastasis.
Working with uveal melanoma patients, I have studied these tumors firsthand in the clinic and operating room. But studying this tumor in the laboratory will help us uncover new ways to treat and prevent metastasis. Throughout my lifetime, I intend to use cutting-edge, patient-derived tumor models in the lab to better understand the mechanisms driving this cancer and uncover new treatments. Cooperative, multidisciplinary translational research will lead to meaningful advances that will benefit uveal melanoma patients in my practice and around the world.
What type of research are you doing?
My research focuses on finding a cure for uveal melanoma. In the lab, my team has developed patient-derived uveal melanoma organoids, which are 3D, living models of real patient-derived tumors. We use these models to better understand the molecular mechanisms driving uveal melanoma growth and spread. We are interested especially in transcription factor signaling pathways and tumor epigenomics that could help us uncover new targets for uveal melanoma treatment.
Why Mayo Clinic?
I vividly remember interviewing for residency at Mayo Clinic several years ago. Walking into the Gonda building, I immediately felt that I was part of something big, and I knew I was meant to work here. Throughout my residency training, I worked with Jose Pulido, M.D., a retina specialist and ocular oncologist, and Michael P. Fautsch, Ph.D., who directed a glaucoma research laboratory. I published my first two papers with their mentorship, and through working with them, I found my passion for both clinical patient care and for conducting cutting-edge research in the lab to create meaningful improvement in patient outcomes. Throughout my career so far, I have experienced some true "Mayo Magic." Dr. Pulido introduced me to my fellowship mentor, Carol L. Shields, M.D.
After returning as a staff physician, I found Martin E. Fernandez-Zapico, M.D., and Svetomir N. Markovic, M.D., Ph.D., who have been instrumental in helping me jump-start my lab. I feel the same magic when taking care of patients here. Regularly working with multiple different subspecialties, I am constantly amazed by how everyone comes together as a team to make sure our patients receive top-notch, integrated care. To this day, I still have that same intangible feeling that Mayo Clinic is where I'm meant to be, and I believe there is no better team or environment in which to work toward an uveal melanoma cure.
What are you looking forward to as a KL2 scholar?
I am thrilled to have this opportunity to learn new skills that I can apply to my uveal melanoma research program. I am excited to be able to work more closely with an amazing, multidisciplinary team of mentors and build on my knowledge in transcriptomic and epigenomic regulation of tumorigenesis. This additional training will allow me to build my patient-derived uveal melanoma organoid library and define the transcriptomic and epigenomic landscape of uveal melanoma. This research will ultimately help uncover new targets for uveal melanoma treatment that will benefit patients at Mayo and around the world.
Review Dr. Lauren Dalvin's publications.
Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology, with a joint appointment in medical oncology
Ocular Oncology, Wills Eye Hospital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
KL2 Appointment Dates
July 2022 to July 2025
Northeast Ohio Medical University, Rootstown, Ohio
Multidisciplinary Expertise Utilized
Patient-derived organoids, epigenomics, bioinformatics, melanoma biology
Senior Associate Consultant, Department of Ophthalmology, Joint Appointment in Division of Medical Oncology, Department of Oncology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
Mechanisms of Uveal Melanoma Pathogenesis
Ophthalmology, Mayo Clinic School for Graduate Medical Education, Rochester, Minnesota