Dr. Clara Curiel-Lewandrowski Named Winner of AZBIO Researcher of the Year Award

Clara N. Curiel-Lewandrowski, MD, Dr. Curiel-Lewandrowski works with a patient at the UA Skin Cancer Institutea tenured professor of medicine in the University of Arizona Division of Dermatology, has won the 2018 AZBIO Researcher of the Year Award from the Arizona Bioscience Association, the association announced on its website along with other categories of winners.

“Dr. Curiel is a deserving recipient of this award for her many achievements,” said James E. Sligh, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine, dermatology divison chief and associate director of the UA Skin Cancer Institute, which is part of the UA Cancer Center.

Dr. James Sligh“Her contributions in clinical services, research and education to the University of Arizona have greatly benefited us over the last decade. Her leadership has been invaluable to the institution in advancing health care in a multidisciplinary fashion. However, the biggest beneficiaries of her contributions have been her many patients seen at the Arizona Cancer Center,” Dr Sligh added.

Dr. Curiel-Lewandrowski, who is also director of the Cutaneous Oncology Program and the Pigmented Lesion Clinic at the UA Skin Cancer Institute and a member of the UA Cancer Center, will be recognized at the AZBio Awards in Phoenix on Oct. 3.


AZBIO Awards logoThe 2018 AZBIO Awards will be hosted by the Arizona Biosciences Association at the Phoenix Convention Center from 3:00-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. At last year's ceremony, the University of Arizona nearly swept the event with faculty winning five of the top awards (see photo below left).

2017 AZBIO Awards for Drs. Marvin Slepian, Lawrence Hurley, Carol Bender, Evan Unger and Steve Goldman's Avery TherapeuticsAgenda:
 • 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. – Opening Reception
 • 4:00 - 5:30  p.m. – AZBIO Awards Ceremony
 • 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. – AZBIO Awards Fiesta & Student Poster Session

The awards are part of Arizona Bioscience Week, Sept. 30-Oct. 6, which celebrates Arizona’s leading educators, innovators and companies. Learn more at: https://www.azbio.org/azbioawards2018

Among those to be recognized in 2018 are the following:

2018 Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year
Calimmune (acquired by CSL Limited in 2017)
Jon W. McGarity Bioscience Leader of the Year
Michael Berens, PhD, Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen)
2018 Public Service Award Honoree
Ron Shoopman, Arizona Board of Regents
2018 Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year
Clara N. Curiel-Lewandrowski, MD, The University of Arizona
Michael A. Cusanovich Bioscience Educator of the Year
Heather Bimonte-Nelson, PhD, Arizona  State University
AZBio Fast Lane Award Honorees
     ○ AdviNow Medical
     ○ bioSyntagma
     ○ NeoLight

The Arizona Bioscience Association is a nonprofit organization that promotes the growth of the state’s bioscience industry. Its annual Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year award goes to an Arizona life science researcher "who has made the most significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge and the understanding of biological processes, as measured by publications and/or professional acknowledgement of their work in either an academic or commercial setting."

Dr. Curiel-Lewandrowski's research interests include melanoma chemoprevention, as well as early detection of melanoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphomas and skin cancer. She began her career at the UA in 2004 as an assistant professor of medicine.

On March 13, her lecture on “Skin Cancer: What Arizonans Need to Know,” during the Winter UA/Banner Health “Doc Talks” lecture series drew the highest attendance of all the talks in the series.

Dr. Clara Curiel with analytical dermatologic deviceAs an inventor, Dr. Curiel-Lewandrowski also has worked closely with Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) through invention disclosures ranging from devices to skin cancer biomarkers. TLA is the commercialization arm of the UA for inventions stemming from research and novel concepts developed by faculty and staff. It brings researchers and the business community together to help commercialize those ideas and enhance the impact of UA's research, innovation, and technology to make the world a better place.

Dr. Curiel was a co-founder of DermSpectra, Inc. (USA), and served in the capacity of chief medical officer to the company until 2015, where she critically contributed to the visionary approach to develop an automated total body digital imaging system that could be implemented in standard dermatological clinical practice. The overall goal of this technology is to document and detect changes in the skin over time, a critical resource in early skin cancer detection. A relevant initial effort that lead to the commercialization of this technology was supported through an Arizona Science Foundation Academic-Industrial Partnership Award between the University of Arizona and Raytheon Missile Systems in 2007, with Dr. Curiel as a co-principal investigator.

Dr. Clara Curiel checks patient for dermatological abnormalitiesIn addition, Dr. Curiel has been involved in pivotal studies leading to approval of additional technologies such as Nevisense (SciBase AB, Sweden). She served as the lead UA Cancer Center principal investigator of the Phase III Clinical Trial in the United States that led to U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of this technology for early melanoma detection in 2017. The UA was the lead accrual site with more than 300 research subjects enrolled in the trial.

Beyond her expertise in the development of non-invasive technologies for early skin cancer detection, Dr. Curiel has worked extensively on identification of targeted signaling pathways for skin cancer prevention through several grant award mechanisms, including serving as co-principal Investigator in National Institutes of Health PO1 awards (NIH/National Cancer Institute Award No. P01CA027502). One of her most recent efforts relates to the implementation of a genetically engineered oncolytic virus to treat squamous cell carcinomas of the skin through an investigator initiated study, in an effort to identify novel and minimally invasive approaches that can shift the way we treat primary skin cancer today. 

About the UA Department of Medicine

The University of Arizona Department of Medicine is one of six original departments and the largest at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson, with 14 divisions—including the Divisions of Dermatology and Hematology/Oncology—covering medical subspecialties, from cardiology to rheumatology. The faculty includes more than 250 physicians who help train more than 70 fellows in 18 fellowship programs, 130 residents in internal medicine and dermatology, and 450 medical students. Affiliated with UA institutes and centers of excellence and collaborative cohorts across the nation and world, the department’s investigators are leading research into development of personalized precision medicine therapies for both simple and complex diseases and improve the lives of people in Arizona and abroad. Learn more: deptmedicine.arizona.edu

“UA/Banner Dermatology Cut Ribbon on New Consolidated Clinic Site” | Posted July 5, 2018
“UA/Banner Dermatology Consolidating Clinics at New Pima Canyon Location by Mid-June” | Posted April 23, 2018
“UA Cancer Researchers Push New Frontiers in Immunotherapy” | Posted April 5, 2018
“Free, Public ‘Doc Talks’ Presented in March include Drs. Sweitzer, Curiel as Speakers” | Posted Feb. 21, 2018
“Dozens of DOM Faculty Among 140 Banner Physicians to Earn ‘Best Doctor’ Recognition” | Posted Jan. 23, 2018
“Total Body Imaging to Take Better Care of the Body's Largest Organ” | Posted March 18, 2016

Release Date: 
08/24/2018 - 4:00pm