SCI Innovation Awardee

October 2023

A $50,000 SCI Innovation Award was awarded to Dawn Siegel, MD, clinical professor of dermatology, and Albert Chiou, MD, MBA, clinical associate professor of dermatology, for their proposal titled “Co-design of an educational intervention for melanoma prevention and awareness for teens.” Siegel specializes in hemangiomas as well as other birthmarks and vascular anomalies in infants and children. Her research interests are in hemangiomas and the related multiple congenital anomaly syndrome, PHACE. Dr. Chiou’s clinical focus is on general medical dermatology. He is also active in clinical trial research to investigate new diagnostic paradigms and treatments for a variety of serious or poorly treated chronic dermatologic conditions.

Melanoma is a relatively rare but deadly form of skin cancer and is the cause of 80% of skin cancer deaths. Hispanic individuals with melanoma have lower survival rates compared with non-Hispanic white individuals. Since the strongest link between UV radiation and melanoma occurs in childhood and adolescence, teens are a critical age group for preventative educational interventions. To address this need, Siegel and Chiou have piloted a program named Interactive Technology for Skin, Community Outreach, Research and Education (iTS-CORE) to learn about sun protection behaviors and melanoma knowledge in the community. Through the support of the SCI Innovation Award, they will further extend and enhance this program, working with both caregivers and teenagers to understand needs and optimize educational approaches. Specifically, they will work with teens to co-design an innovative educational intervention. The teens will use immersive technologies, such as games with augmented reality, to learn to protect their skin from the sun and develop an awareness about melanoma. They will be able to see the benefits of sun protection and the negative effects of sun damage based on the amount of shade, UV index, and sun-protective behaviors, and will learn to recognize melanoma types more common in Hispanic individuals, including presentation on the soles of the feet. This accessible educational intervention will be implemented through clinics, hospitals, and schools.