Dr. Kirkwood’s research focuses upon melanoma immunobiology, therapy and prevention. He developed the first FDA-approved immunotherapy of melanoma (1996) and has led immunotherapy development in cancer for the past 45 years, beginning decades before immunotherapy had reached the limelight it has achieved in melanoma and other solid tumors over the past 5 years. He has advanced the multimodal therapy of melanoma with surgery, stereotactic radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and molecular antitumor agents, and is now pioneering new approaches to the assessment of combinations of the 10 recently-approved new immunotherapies and molecular therapies that are anticipated to be the focus of the next decade of clinical translational research.
The Kirkwood laboratory is engaged in the molecular and immunohistological analysis of melanoma, studying tissues from the institutional, national, and international trials with which Dr. Kirkwood is engaged. Metastatic and loco-regional tumor tissues from patients participating in new combination therapies, neoadjuvant trials, and prevention interventions are examined with an emphasis upon the alterations in immunomodulatory STAT signaling pathways, and effector immune responses.