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Sancy Leachman

Sancy Leachman

Sancy Leachman, MD, PhD

Cancer Center Bio

Selected Achievements

Doris Duke Clinical Scientist Development Award (2000)

Ladies Home Journal, Health Hero (2002)

"Advocate of the Year", Utah State Department of Health and the Cancer Crusaders Organization (2005)

Sancy grew up in the city of Amarillo in the great state of Texas.  She always had pets growing up, one of which was a roadrunner, and this probably gave her the idea of being a bird doctor.  Over time, her interest in becoming a veterinarian was replaced by the desire to be a doctor for people.  Sancy started college at the University of Dallas, a small private Catholic liberal arts school in Irving, Texas.  Looking for a larger college experience, she transferred to the University of Texas at Austin, and was accepted into its Plan II Liberal Arts honors program, a challenging interdisciplinary curriculum, which she finished in three years.  Trying to choose between a career as a scientist and one as a doctor, she decided to pursue both and went to the University of Texas Southwestern, where she enrolled in the MD/PhD program.  She carried out her PhD studies in the lab of Jim Stull, where she studied myosin light chain kinases in muscle cells.

After completing her MD/PhD training, she chose Dermatology as her medical specialty. She credits her MD/PhD mentor, Dr. Jean Wilson, the former chief editor of Harrison’s Textbook of Medicine, with helping her find dermatology. Sancy respected Dr. Wilson a great deal and says she wouldn’t have even considered dermatology had he not suggested it to her as a way to successfully combine medicine, research, and family, and it also encompassed her interest in immunology.  After spending her intern year at Southwestern, she moved to Connecticut where she had matched in Dermatology at Yale. She completed her residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, and during this time had the good fortune to meet and train with Aaron Lerner.  Lastly, she completed a fellowship at Yale University School of Medicine in cutaneous oncology, where she worked on a DNA vaccination study to prevent and treat papillomavirus-induced squamous cell carcinoma.

Since starting at the University of Utah in 1998, her clinical interests have encompassed skin cancers with a focus on melanoma, pigmentary disorders that result from abnormalities of melanocytes such as vitiligo, and genetic disorders that involve the skin such as pachyonychia congenita, Cowden syndrome, and other cutaneous cancer syndromes.  In her melanoma research, her lab examines the role of genetic predisposition and differential gene expression in the development of melanoma, with an emphasis on the familial melanoma syndrome.  Her goal is to identify genetic susceptibility factors for the disease, in order to use these not only to develop new treatments and prognostic tools for patients with cancer, but also to prevent cancer in those individuals at high risk for the disease.