Image by Ian Schneider

American Melanoma Institute was founded in March 2019 by a group of passionate volunteers, some with extensive medical training in specialties such as dermatology, dermatopathology, pharmacy, optometry and dentistry to help prevent, diagnose, and ultimately cure melanoma. Our fundamental goal is to save and celebrate lives  by discovery and research, public education and raising awareness to prevent melanoma and ultimately finding cures. Please consider donating to AMI and volunteering with us if our mission and message resonates with you.


Board Members:

Dr. Marc Polacco, MD

Dr. Polacco is a double board-certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon located in Evans, Georgia. He completed medical school at the University of Iowa with distinction in research and the humanities, and completed a 5-year residency in head and neck surgery at Dartmouth, where he published numerous scientific articles and was successful in obtaining competitive grants. Following residency, he was hand-selected for a competitive fellowship in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery in association with the University of California San Francisco, and he now serves as a clinical assistant professor at the Medical College of Georgia, the largest public medical school in the state.


When not operating, Dr. Polacco enjoys reading, writing, lifting, rowing, and hiking.

Dr. Laleh Hedayat, DDS 

Dr. Laleh practices dentistry in Orange County, California. She is a former assistant professor of dentistry at Oregon Health Sciences University School of Dentistry. She completed her dental school in Tehran, prior to relocation to Portland Oregon. Aside from dentistry, she enjoys painting, playing music, learning languages, traveling and volunteering. She has volunteered in several international medical/dental trips in South America. 


Ms. Susan Mehdad, BS, MS 

Ms. Mehdad is a retired biology lecturer and teacher who is passionate about teaching and learning. She enjoys traveling, practicing yoga and jogging. She resides with her husband in Southern California.


Mr. John Wong, BS 

Originally from Oregon, John came to Seattle for his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington. After graduating with a bachelors in Chemistry, he took his first step into the aerospace industry as a chemist at a metallurgical / specialty coatings company. In a few short years, he rose to the position of a QA manager, but felt he could do more. John landed at the Boeing company and accepted a position in the Boeing Research and Technology, Chemical Technology division. After a couple rewarding years, his ambitions grew towards the business side of the company. At this point he chose to join the world's highest selling jetliner program (737) and honed his business acumen, project management, data analytics and executive leadership/communication skills. Since then John has elevated his career again and accepted a position within the Boeing Global Supplier Quality organization where he leads process improvement projects with global cross functional reach, multi-million dollar impact, and major time and capacity savings.


Ms. Zahra Paykari, LLB, MSc​ 

She is Candidate of Juris Doctorate for 2020. Internationally, she has worked in legal departments of multiple companies and firms on individual and group contracts, which she specializes as a legal expert. She holds multiple license in financial services in NY, NJ, MD, CA and TX. She currently works in an investment-insurance company in New York City.

Ms. Pakyari received two Bachelor degrees in Law and Agricultural engineering from Shiraz University. In addition, she earned her two master degrees in International Law and US Law for Foreign lawyers in Pennsylvania State law School. 


Dr. Niloufar Hedayat, OD​ 


Dr. Niloufar Hedayat is a California Board licensed optometrist and owner of Excel Optometry in Ladera Ranch, California. She is certified to treat and manage diseases of the eye and to use therapeutic pharmacological agents.has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Physics and Doctor of Optometry degree from SCCO (Southern California College of Optometry).  She has extensive clinical experience in comprehensive vision examinations, fitting specialty contact lenses and managing refractive surgery


She lives with her husband and two daughters in Ladera Ranch and enjoys volunteering in her time off.


Dr. Sherry Khatabi, PharmD 

​Dr. Khatabi is a board certified pharmacist who received her degree from pharmacy school at Roseman University of Health Sciences. She is a pharmacy manager with a commercial pharmacy. 

She enjoys yoga, hiking, painting, volunteering and cooking in her time off.

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Dr. Amin Hedayat, MD, FASDP, FACP, FASCP 

Dr. Hedayat is triple board certified in dermatopathology, anatomic pathlogy and clinical pathology. He is a an assistant clinical professor of medicine and dermatopathology at University of Nevada in Las Vegas and a practicing dermatopathologist with one of the largest laboratories in the US, Quest Diagnostics. Dr. Hedayat was dermatopathology fellowship-trained at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College, where he was mentored by some of the most  internationally renowned dermatopathologists and dermatologists. He completed his residency at Dartmouth. Dr. Hedayat has numerous peer-reviewed publications and book chapters on topics including melanoma, melanocytic tumors and cutaneous lymphoma. He has been invited to present in numerous national and international scientific meetings. Dr. Hedayat is passionate about fighting skin cancer through practicing medicine, education and research.


Among many hobbies, Dr. Hedayat particularly enjoys outdoor adventures, classical/opera singing, road cycling and traveling.