Seattle Multidisciplinary MCC TeamUniversity of Washington MCC ResearchFred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/Skin Cancer


Clinic Team

Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD.  Dr. Nghiem oversees both the clinic and research teams. He is a dermatologist/scientist who moved 'back home' in 2006 from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He specializes in skin cancers with a particular interest in optimizing the management of patients with Merkel cell carcinoma.  He has cared for over 800 patients with MCC and has read, lectured and written about this uncommon and challenging disease.  Dr. Nghiem conducts basic science research on cancer biology at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.  His contributions to the MCC literature can be viewed at his laboratory website at  With a goal of defining more optimal treatment for MCC, the team is maintaining a clinical database and tumor bank to better analyze this rare disease. In addition, he is leading genetic studies to further understand the biology of MCC. He has also founded the MCC Multicenter Interest Group, with representatives from over 20 institutions to pool resources and expertise on this challenging cancer. An increasing number of clinical trials are ongoing for this cancer. Dr. Nghiem describes the warning signs of MCC on Seattle's King 5.

Paul Nghiem, MD, PhD



Katy Leptich, RN [email]
Clinic Nurse
Katy works with Dr. Nghiem at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Skin Oncology Clinic caring for patients with Merkel cell carcinoma.

Amy Alering, RN [email]

Clinic Nurse
Amy works with Dr. Nghiem at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Skin Oncology Clinic caring for patients with Merkel cell carcinoma.

Kelly Kimura

Kelly Kimura, RN [email]
Clinic Nurse
Kelly works with Dr. Nghiem at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Skin Oncology Clinic caring for patients with Merkel cell carcinoma.

Loveleen James [email]
Patient Care Coordinator
Please contact Loveleen James if you would like to make an appointment for consultation with Dr. Nghiem at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

phone: 206-288-1062

Danielle Beckham


Danielle Beckham [email]
Patient Care Coordinator
Danielle works with Loveleen James and can assist you to make an appointment for consultation with Dr. Nghiem at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.
phone: 206-288-1062


Multidisciplinary Team

Dr. Shailender Bhatia

Medical Oncology

Dr. Bhatia has a special interest in developing approaches to harness the immune system for managing Merkel cell carcinoma and melanoma. He is the Principal Investigator for several clinical trials for MCC focused on improving the immune response against this cancer. SCCA Link

Dr. David Byrd
Surgical Oncology
Dr. Byrd is the head of Surgical Oncology at the University of Washington and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. He is a national leader in developing cancer staging systems, including those for Merkel cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. He is a key participant in the management of most of our patients and is particularly expert in the use of sentinel lymph node biopsies for managing complex skin cancers. SCCA Link

Dr. Peter Neligan

Plastic Surgery

Dr. Neligan is highly experienced in removing skin cancers, even extremely large ones, from the face and reconstructing normal structures afterwards. He routinely integrates sentinel lymph node biopsies into management of MCC patients. UW Link

Dr. Upendra Parvathaneni
Radiation Oncology
"Dr. P" has extensive expertise in managing MCCs with the use of radiation therapy. His clinical pracice is based at the University of Washington and he works very closely with us on the majority of MCC cases. In some cases, patients are treated by him in Seattle, and in other cases, he consults with the patient's radiation oncologist closer to home to ensure the best possible management for their cancer. SCCA Link



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Research Team


Candice Church [email]
Research Fellow

Maclean Cook

Undergrad Research Assistant

Ilsa Juhlin
Undergrad Research Assistant
Masaoki Kawasumi, MD, PhD [email]
Acting Assistant Professor
Masaoki joined our team in April, 2004. He focuses on more general mechanisms of cancer, but he provides great experience and guidance to others in the lab.

Rima Kulikauskas [email]

Senior Research Scientist

Kelly Paulson (Garneski) email
Internal Medicine Resident

Kelly joined our team in June, 2006. She trained in the lab as a MD/PhD student who focused on understanding the genetics of MCC for her PhD thesis, building the foundation for a career in translational medicine.

Jamil Qazi email

Undergrad Research Assistant

Neha Singh
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Krista Stafstrom
Research Scientist

Hannah Thomas email

Research Scientist

Zoe Thuesmunn
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Natalie Vandeven email

Graduate & Medical Student


Why did we write this?

We have assembled this information to answer frequently asked questions about Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC). Since MCC is an uncommon malignancy, few patients are familiar with the disease and few doctors are familiar with its treatment. Easy access to understandable information is often difficult to obtain. In this resource, we have combined our review of the best available literature and our experience caring for over 800 patients with MCC at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. This information is designed to facilitate key therapeutic decisions that need to be made within weeks to months of initial diagnosis of MCC. Please discuss any questions that you may have about the information presented below with your doctor.


Image of normal Merkel cells stained with fluorescent CAM5.2 antibody courtesy Dr. JP Ortonne.


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Who created this website?

Sheela Gupta, MD. Dr. Gupta graduated from Boston University School of Medicine.  She has an interest in academic dermatology, in particular cutaneous oncology and patient education. She completed dermatology residency at the Harvard Medical School Program.

Linda Wang, MD, JD. Dr. Wang began work on this project began while she was a Chief Resident at the University of Chicago Section of Dermatology and was funded by a 2004 Mentorship Award through the Women's Dermatologic Society ( She now sees MCC patients as the Director of the Merkel Cell Carcinoma Program at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Some key Merkel team members (L to R) Isabel Longo, MD, PhD;

Linda Wang, MD, JD, and Sheela Gupta, MD.


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