Melissa G. Lechner, MD, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. Her clinical and research interests are related to endocrine disease resulting from cancer immunotherapy (onco-endocrinology) and advanced thyroid cancer. She established the Onco-Endocrinology clinic at UCLA to care for patients with endocrine side effects from cancer immunotherapy and targeted therapies. She also has expertise in thyroid nodules (including biopsy).
Dr. Lechner leads multiple prospective clinical trials at UCLA studying thyroid disease and cancer immunotherapy. She has received funding from the American Thyroid Association, Endocrine Fellows Foundation, and National Institutes of Health for her research and has been invited to speak nationally and internationally on the role of the immune system in cancer. She has published articles in Thyroid, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, The Journal of Immunology, Cancer, and Clinical Cancer Research, including original research and invited reviews, and serves on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network of Management of Immunotherapy Toxicity Side Effects guidance panel.
After finishing her combined MD and PhD training in the joint USC Keck School of Medicine/Cal Tech physician-scientist training program, Dr. Lechner completed residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Boston Children's Hospital of the Harvard Medical School. In 2018, she joined UCLA as a clinical fellow in endocrinology and post-doctoral researcher in the prestigious Specialty Training and Advanced Research (STAR) program. In 2020, Dr. Lechner joined the faculty at UCLA.
Medical Board Certifications
- Thyroid disease
- Cancer Immunotherapy
- Immune related adverse events from cancer treatment
- Thyroid cancer
Current Clinical Trials
IRB#21-000633 Mechanisms of Immune Checkpoint Inhibitor cancer therapy-associated and Spontaneous Thyroid Autoimmune Disease
PI: Dr. Lechner (Sponsors: UCLA, USC, NIH and Aramont Charitable Foundation)
[Archival: IRB#19-001708 Comparison of Immune Profiles in Different Thyroid Disease States (Sponsors: UCLA and NIH)]
Purpose: Immune related adverse events are autoimmune toxicities that occur in many patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) cancer therapies, and the thyroid is one of the most common organs affected. In addition, thyroid autoimmune disease affects millions of individuals worldwide and leads to the need for lifelong thyroid hormone replacement.
Our studies seek to determine the cause of these thyroid autoimmune diseases so that disease modifying therapies can be developed.
Involvement: The study involves collection of peripheral blood and a thyroid fine needle aspirate. Compensation is provided.
Eligibility: Adults with active thyroid disease, including immune checkpoint inhibitor thyroid disease, autoimmune thyroid disease (such as Hashimoto’s or thyroiditis). Controls without thyroid autoimmune disease are also needed, and can include individuals with benign thyroid nodules.
Sites: UCLA and USC
IRB#20-000494 Immune Profiles Associated with Development of Immune Toxicities in Checkpoint Immunotherapy-Treated Cancer Patients
PI: Dr. Lechner (Sponsors: UCLA and NIH)
Purpose: Immune related adverse events are autoimmune toxicities that occur in many patients treated with immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) cancer therapies. Our studies seek to determine the cause of these IrAEs by following immune changes over time in patients treated with ICI while monitoring for the development of IrAEs and potential biomarkers for these unwanted side effects.
Involvement: The study involves collection of peripheral blood every 3 months for 1 year. Blood collection can be done in conjunction with Oncology visits.
Eligibility: Adults with cancer being treated with immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.
Sites: UCLA and USC
IRB#19-000032 Mechanisms of Autoimmunity
PI: Dr. Su (Sponsors: UCLA and NIH)
Purpose: This study examines the immune system changes that lead to the development of autoimmune diseases, specifically the role of T cells and myeloid cells, so that disease modifying therapies can be identified.
Involvement: The study involves collection of peripheral blood.
Eligibility: Children and adults with autoimmune disease, such as type 1 diabetes mellitus, autoimmune polyglandular syndrome (APS), Addison’s disease, thyroid autoimmune disease, and immunotherapy-related autoimmune disease.
Controls without autoimmune disease are also eligible.
Other ongoing clinical research is related to thyroid cancer, autoimmune peripheral neuropathy, and epigenetic causes of type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes mellitus.
Please contact Dr. Lechner via the UCLA Clinical Trials Website if you would like more information about these studies.