'Meticulous' Melanoma Researcher Dies From the Disease

Peter Russell

January 14, 2020

Colleagues of a university researcher who died from the same kind of cancer as she was studying paid tribute to her "meticulous" work and stoic attitude in the face of the disease.

Dr Sharon Hutchison, 39, from Inverness was investigating melanoma at the School of Health, Social Care and Life Sciences at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).

She died less than a year after being diagnosed with the disease.

Dr Sharon Hutchison. Photo credit: University of the Highlands and Islands

The senior post-doctoral researcher joined the team in the summer of 2018.

Previously she had worked in the radiopharmacy department at Raigmore Hospital, where she was part of a team producing treatments for cancer patients.

Her recent work at the An Lòchran campus involved genomic events targeting the antigen presentation genes in melanoma.
 

'Her Melanoma Was Aggressive'

Dr Hutchison was diagnosed with melanoma in January last year after spotting a mole on her neck.

Dr Antonia Pritchard, senior lecturer in genetics and immunology at UHI, and a friend of Dr Hutchison, told The Inverness Courier: "She went to her doctor – she did all the right things, but her melanoma was a particularly aggressive form.

"She had major surgery and was back at work after one week.

"She had a tremendous work ethic when it came to her research."

Despite undergoing two different types of therapy, the cancer spread.

"Being an expert in this, we knew from the outset what the options were," Dr Pritchard said. "She was very stoic. She faced it with immense strength. She was remarkable."

Dr Hutchison worked until the beginning of December before her death on the 28th at the Highland Hospice, surrounded by her family.
 

'Greatly Missed'

The funeral was held at Falkirk Crematorium on Thursday 9th January.

She leaves parents David and Jane, and a brother, Neil.

Dr Pritchard said she was determined that the legacy of her friend and colleague would live on, and that her team would continue to research the disease and raise awareness of melanoma.

"Sharon was very passionate about people getting themselves tested," Dr Pritchard said.

A spokesperson for the UHI told Medscape News UK that Dr Hutchison would be "greatly missed, particularly by Dr Antonia Pritchard and all her colleagues working in the melanoma research team".

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