Melanoma Research Foundation

New Hope for Metastatic Melanoma Patients

From the desk of MRF CEO Kyleigh LiPira:

This month, there was big news for the melanoma community that brings hope to so many stage four patients and their loved ones. Results of a phase 2 clinical trial presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Annual Meeting found that an experimental mRNA vaccine developed by Moderna combined with Keytruda (Merck) could reduce the risk of melanoma recurrence or death by 44% compared to Keytruda alone. “All tumors, especially cutaneous melanomas, have mutations that create proteins that are recognized as foreign proteins by the body’s immune system and when the immune system is reactivated, tumors use checkpoints to shut off the immune system response,” says Michael B. Atkins, MD, Co-Chair of the MRF’s Scientific Advisory Committee. “The immune response can be augmented by implementing vaccines such as this breakthrough mRNA vaccine which presents those foreign proteins to the immune system. This pivotal advancement has the potential to reduce the risk of recurrence or death.” More information about the study and the potential impact it could have on the larger cancer community can be found in our news room.

Next month, during Melanoma Awareness Month, we will continue in our crusade to draw attention and awareness to melanoma and the rarer subtypes. While you cannot prevent some of the rarer subtypes like mucosal and ocular melanoma, it is critical to catch these diseases as early as possible to have positive outcomes. Cutaneous melanoma is very treatable if caught early and we hope this month through our education program, you will become empowered by the incredible dermatologists and oncologists who will be speaking through our various events such as in-person and virtual patient symposia, educational webinars and a weekly “Dermfluencer” series on Instagram Live. Additionally, we will feature content highlighting our rare melanoma communities including ocular, mucosal, pediatric and adolescent/young adult melanoma patients, survivors, thrivers and caregivers.

In just a few short hours we will unveil this year’s #GetNaked spokesperson, and I couldn’t be more excited about the new face of our award-winning campaign. I won’t reveal the surprise quite yet, but our newest spokesperson will likely be a familiar face to many of you, and I was moved by how their own experience led them to become such a strong advocate for melanoma prevention and early detection. Beginning tomorrow we’ll introduce the #GetNaked campaign on our website, in a social media takeover, a nationwide press release and even a video PSA in Times Square!

Lastly, our work would not be possible without you! The MRF is completely funded and empowered by the community we serve. We hope you will consider making a tax-deductible gift to enable us to continue our work to eradicate melanoma and help fund further research like the mRNA vaccine.

With gratitude,

Donate Now

MRF Breakthrough Consortium Leaders Named AACR Fellows

Congratulations to MRF Breakthrough Consortium members and MRF-supported researchers Keith Flaherty, MD and Jedd Wolchok, MD, PhD, who were recently inducted as Fellows of the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR) Academy! Dr. Flaherty was recognized for his groundbreaking translational discoveries advancing therapeutic agents, and Dr. Wolchok was honored for his many impactful contributions to novel cancer immunotherapy strategies. “Keith is essentially the leader in targeted therapies for cancer; Jedd is the leader in immunotherapies for cancer,” said Michael B. Atkins, MD, Co-Chair of the MRF’s Scientific Advisory Committee. “They have had tremendous impact, not just in melanoma, but in the treatment of all cancers.” We are grateful to Dr. Flaherty and Dr. Wolchok, and all the members of our Scientific Leadership team, for guiding our work towards more effective treatments in melanoma, many of which also benefit the broader cancer community. Please join us in congratulations for this well-deserved honor!

Attend a Patient & Caregiver Symposium

Each year, we partner with leading healthcare centers across the country to host free patient and caregiver meetings to share the latest news in melanoma research, treatment, survivorship and support resources. Registration is now open for the first three events, and we invite you to join us for educational symposia at the University of North Carolina (May 1), Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (May 20) and Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (June 10). Additional information including a draft agenda for each event will be available soon, as well as dates for additional meetings held later this year. We look forward to sharing the very latest news from melanoma experts and hope to see you there!

Thank you to Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, Genentech and Regeneron for sponsoring the Patient Symposia Series.

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Miles for Melanoma is Here!

Last year, more than 4,500 participants in 16 cities came together to celebrate melanoma patients, survivors and caregivers while raising over $967,000 for melanoma research, education and advocacy and now the 2023 season is here! Registration for run/walks in Washington, DC (May 6), Boston, MA (May 13), Memphis, TN (June 3), Denver, CO (June 10) and Chicago, IL (July 16) is now open! Register today to get an early start on team recruitment and earning exciting fundraising incentives. Registration for additional events will open in the near future; visit the Miles for Melanoma homepage to find a run/walk near you, mark your calendars and get ready to run, walk and raise life-saving funds to cure melanoma!

Thank you to our National Prevention Sponsor, Neutrogena and National Apparel Partner, Cabana Life, for your generous support of the Miles for Melanoma program.

Attend a Gala!

On Thursday, September 21, we will celebrate the 12th Annual Denver Gala with cocktails, a gourmet dinner, one-of-a-kind auction items and an awards program honoring melanoma patients, survivors and physicians. During the program, Stacey Sepp will receive the Advocate Award for being a powerful voice for the melanoma community, Zeina Dajani, MD will be presented with the Excellence in Prevention Award and Courage Awards will honor the bravery of Crystal Crowley and Mary Harty-Prather as they faced melanoma.

On October 26, the 22nd Annual New York Gala moves to a dazzling new venue at The Plaza Hotel for cocktails, a fabulous dinner and an incredible auction and awards program. A Humanitarian Award will be presented to Udai S. Kammula, MD, FACS for his contributions to melanoma research and treatment, the Excellence in Prevention Award will honor Samer Jaber, MD for his commitment to the prevention and early detection of melanoma. A very special Courage Award will celebrate Teddi Mellencamp for sharing her own melanoma experience and using her platform to increase awareness.

For further information about MRF galas, to purchase tickets, learn about sponsorship opportunities, or make a tax-deductible donation, please email


$550,000 in Melanoma Research Funding Now Available

Melanoma researchers are invited to apply for two funding opportunities currently available, with an application deadline of July 17.

  • The CURE OM Options Bring Hope Team Award in honor of Lindsay Zubeck provides funding of up to $250,000 over a two-year period to an investigative team whose research will advance treatment for all patients with metastatic uveal melanoma (i.e. not restricted by HLA type). Teams should consist of a PI and at least one co-PI, ideally from different institutions and teams consisting of both basic scientists and clinicians are encouraged, as is the inclusion of a junior scientist. US-based and international scientists are eligible to apply.
  • MRF Breakthrough Consortium (MRFBC) Young Investigator Team Award to Advance the Field of Translational Immuno-Oncology provides funding of up to $150,000 per year for two years to an investigative team whose research focuses on either improving clinical outcomes for patients with melanoma being treated with immuno‐oncology agents or advancing the scientific understanding of immuno‐oncology and the role of the immune system in melanoma. Teams must involve collaborations from at least two different institutions, the lead site must be a MRFBC member institution. Research must be conducted in the United States. Further, the proposed PI and all co-PIs must be junior scientists, all of whom have at least one mentor.

Additional information and application instructions can be found on the Request for Proposals (RFP) page. For any questions about these funding opportunities or the MRF Research Program, please email

Options Bring Hope for the Ocular Melanoma Community

Last year, the first FDA-approved treatment for uveal melanoma was made available, representing a significant advance in the OM field. However, the therapy is only effective in those with a specific genetic marker, meaning approximately half of OM patients, including those like Lindsay Zubeck, still lack an approved treatment option. Recognizing that options bring hope and PROGRESS is POWER, Lindsay’s family and friends created the CURE OM Options Bring Hope Award in Honor of Lindsay Zubeck, referenced in the previous section. Their incredible generosity has the potential to significantly advance the scientific understanding of OM and the development of more effective treatments for all patients. We are grateful to Lindsay for her ongoing advocacy for the OM community, and to those who support her for their commitment to creating new options, and reasons for hope, for our community.

If you are interested in supporting a research grant or other initiative in honor of a loved one, please email


Eyes on a Cure: OM Patient & Caregiver Symposium

Thank you to everyone who joined us at the Eyes on a Cure: Ocular Melanoma Patient and Caregiver Symposium in Tampa, Florida! It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with the patient and caregiver community and learn from medical experts, researchers and oncology social workers about advancements in ocular melanoma (OM), navigating the patient journey, and what’s to come in the field. You can view photos from the event in our Facebook album, and watch a playlist of participant testimonials recorded at the symposium. Don't forget to stay connected with ocular melanoma patients or caregivers and help to advance OM research by joining VISION, the global patient powered ocular melanoma platform!

We look forward to seeing you next spring in Boston, Massachusetts for the 2024 Eyes on a Cure: Patient & Caregiver Symposium!


Upcoming Events


  • June 2: MRF Breakthrough Consortium Annual Meeting
  • August 6: Miles for Melanoma Cleveland
  • August 19: Miles for Melanoma Twin Cities
  • August 26: Miles for Melanoma Philadelphia
  • September 16: Miles for Melanoma Seattle
  • September 17: Miles for Melanoma New Jersey
  • October 15: Miles for Melanoma San Diego
  • November 12: Miles for Melanoma San Francisco
  • Date TBD: Miles for Melanoma New York City
  • Date TBD: Miles for Melanoma Atlanta
  • Date TBD: Miles for Melanoma Los Angeles
  • Date TBD: Miles for Melanoma Florida

View MRF Events



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