Melanoma Research Foundation

SPOTlight on a Season of Giving

From the desk of MRF CEO Kyleigh LiPira, MBA: 


As this very challenging year draws to a close, as an organization we want to extend our immense thanks to the melanoma community for its support. It is a community that has come together to rally behind the mission of the MRF but also the melanoma patients and caregivers who are still trying to navigate a cancer diagnosis and treatment amidst these hurdles. From our corporate partners who have stepped up to fund critical programming to the communities that have virtually participated in our events – we thank you!

If you have not yet had time to make a year-end gift, we ask that you consider supporting our Fund the Future campaign which directly supports our 2021 research grant program. As we look to next year and the many unknowns, we know that the critical research we support at academic institutions across the United States cannot slow down. There are variety of ways you can give whether through an IRA distribution, stock gift, check or online, so please consider making the MRF one of the charities you support this year. Your donations will be put to good work supporting the many clinician-scientists working tirelessly toward a cure.

To ensure our ability to serve this community and support life-saving research continues to grow, this month the MRF welcomed Susan Vogel to our team as the Chief Development Officer. With more than two decades of experience in health care philanthropy, we're excited to have Susan's expertise and leadership to guide our development efforts and expand our programs as the MRF celebrates a milestone 25th anniversary next year. I recently sat down (virtually) with Susan for a brief, introductory Q&A which you can read here.

On behalf of the MRF staff and board, thank you for supporting us this year and we wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.


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Upcoming Events

November 5 - Virtual Chicago Gala

November 7 - Virtual Miles for Melanoma San Diego

November 15 - Virtual Miles for Melanoma San Francisco

November 19-21 - Eyes on a Cure: OM Global Patient & Caregiver Symposium

December 3 - Virtual New York Gala

 Planning your own CommUNITY Fundraising event? Email so we can include it on our online calendar!

 Unlock the Cure at a Virtual Gala!

So far this year, the MRF has honored our heroes in the melanoma community at virtual galas hosted in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Denver and there are still two opportunities left to join in the celebration! Next week on Thursday, November 5, the 6th Annual Virtual Chicago Gala will recognize the incredible physicians leading the fight against melanoma, and courageous individuals who exemplified inspiring bravery when facing their diagnosis. In recent weeks, we hosted "Meet the Honoree" sessions live on Facebook to introduce our community to this year's honorees in advance of the gala. Visit the MRF Facebook page to "meet" Dr. Gerami, Dr. Jacob and Dr. Pritzker, as well as Courage Award recipient Nikki Bruno, who shared her story Gala Co-Chair Jordyn Grollo. Learn more about this year's honorees, and then purchase your ticket to join us to celebrate Drs. Gerami, Jacob and Pritzker and Courage Award recipients Nicole Bruno, Joni Kamstra and Nancy Sreenan on Thursday, November 5!

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities for the 6th Annual Virtual Chicago Gala are still available - purchase yours today!

For nearly two decades, the New York Gala has been one of the most anticipated events of the year and we're excited to continue this important tradition in a virtual capacity. As a virtual event, the MRF invites our friends from all over the country to enjoy luxury in their living room, wherever that may be. While just over a month away, this year's Gala also includes an exciting new fundraising initiative which you can participate in now: Unlock the Cure! By purchasing an Unlock the Cure ticket - which are strictly limited in quantity and selling fast - you have the chance to win some of the most incredible prizes ever offered at a gala. Purchase your chance to Unlock the Cure before they're gone!

On Thursday, December 3, join us to celebrate our heroes in the New York melanoma community. At the New York Gala, the MRF will present a Humanitarian Award to Niroshana Anandasabapathy, MD, PhD. The Excellence in Prevention Award will recognize
Amy Wechsler, MD and Neutrogena will be honored with the Corporate Leadership Award. The Courage Award will be presented to Clara Latham for being an inspiring and committed self-advocate for her care.

Sponsorship opportunities and other ways to get involved are still available; email to learn about the benefits of supporting the New York Gala as an individual or organization.

Purchase your tickets for the 19th Annual New York Gala!


#GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world. This movement was formed in 2012 to encourage others to do good! Each year our advocates, patients and community members come together to give back and support the melanoma community. We hope you will join us on Tuesday, December 1st for #GivingTuesday! We have partnered with a few amazing and passionate organizations this year to help raise critical funds for the melanoma community. Mark your calendar for Tuesday, December 1st and make sure to follow along with us on social media for some exciting announcements leading up to the big day! 

Virtual Miles for Melanoma is in the Final Stretch!


The Miles for Melanoma season is completely virtual this year, but our community has brought the same excitement and energy to each event as we race towards the finish line for the 2020 season! In October we joined our friends in Los Angeles, CA (October 3), Chicago, IL (October 17), Atlanta, GA (October 24) and New York City (October 31)! This year, each Miles for Melanoma run/walk has expanded into a week-long "Fitness Crawl" featuring creative daily exercise prompts to inspire socially distanced workouts throughout the week. Participants also have the opportunity to win fun prizes through daily fundraising and team recruitment challenges, leading up to a virtual 5k on the originally scheduled date complete with a celebration ceremony, awards for top teams, speeches by survivors and special guests, and more. 

There are only two races remaining in the 2020 Miles for Melanoma season, both in California, but because they are virtual events you can participate from anywhere in the US. Take a "virtual vacation" to the west coast for a Miles for Melanoma Virtual 5k in San Diego (November 7) and San Francisco (November 14) before the season draws to a close.

Thank you to everyone who walked or ran with us at virtual events across the country, this season definitely looked different than any before, but your commitment and dedication to the cause made it just as memorable. The MRF extends a special thanks to our National Sponsor Novartis, National Prevention Partner Neutrogena and National Apparel Partner Coolibar!

Ask the Expert with OncoSec

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From September 16 through October 7, the MRF partnered with OncoSec to host a weekly series of "Ask the Expert" Facebook live broadcasts covering a broad range of educational topics surrounding melanoma. Leading physicians and researchers offered their expertise along with patients and caregivers giving their perspectives. Each weekly session was broadcast live on Facebook, and recordings are now available to view on demand on the MRF Facebook page.

The MRF thanks our partners at OncoSec for their help in producing this informative educational resource for our community, and for their strong and ongoing support of the melanoma community!

Immunocore Walks Miles for Melanoma - Thank You!


Congratulations and THANK YOU to our partners at Immunocore for hosting a successful month-long fundraiser for the MRF's ocular melanoma community! With offices in both the United States and the UK, the team goal was to walk the equivalent distance from office to office - a trek of 3,759 miles - and to raise $10,000. When the month was over, they not only reached their goals but exceeded them. The Immunocore team walked a total of 5,812 miles and raised more than $14,700! Thank you to everyone at Immunocore for your hard work and dedication to supporting ocular melanoma patients everywhere!

 MRF Advocates: Take Action Now

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The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) Advocacy Action Center is a platform for those affected by melanoma to share their voice and transform melanoma care. Whether you are a patient, caregiver, survivor, health care professional or partner, YOU play a critical role in advancing better outcomes for the more than 1.3 million Americans living with melanoma and their loved ones. Ready to get involved? It's quick and easy (and effective!) to take action today.

Clinical trials are often considered the best treatment option for melanoma, and an essential step in the research and development of new treatments. Ensure ALL Americans have access to the most promising clinical trials.

Now more than ever, patients across the country are struggling to afford life-sustaining medications and the cost of some medicines continues to rise. Tell Congress out-of-pocket prescription costs MUST come down!

The MRF is committed to be a leading voice for the melanoma community and relies on a dedicated network of volunteer advocates to ensure the melanoma community remains a national priority. Make your voice heard on these and other important policy issues at the MRF Advocacy Action Center.

Visit the MRF Advocacy Action Center and contact your lawmakers today!

MRF Attends SMR - Virtually!


The Society for Melanoma Research (SMR) Virtual Congress was held on October 28, 2020 and multiple members of the MRF team and the researchers we support participated in this global, virtual melanoma meeting.

One day prior to the event, the MRF's CURE OM initiative hosted the 9th Annual CURE OM Global Science Meeting. The MRF hosts this meeting each year in conjunction with the SMR Congress to facilitate interdisciplinary and innovative collaboration focused on finding effective treatments and,
ultimately, a cure for ocular melanoma. This year's meeting included more than 160 participants joining from three different continents! Highlights include:

  • A presentation on a new tumor cell population (circulating hybrid cells) in uveal melanoma by Alison H. Skalet, MD, PhD, Ophthalmic Oncologist at Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health & Science University and recipient of a 2018 Career Development Award from the MRF. These cells can be used to study the biology of disease progression and also may be useful as a predictive test to identify patients with non-cancerous to low grade or aggressive uveal melanoma.
  • An update on uveal melanoma metastases research by J. William Harbour, MD, University of Miami and recipient of a 2019 Established Investigator Award from the MRF.
  • A live, interdisciplinary Q&A panel with ocular melanoma experts from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the University of Miami, Columbia University, the Cleveland Clinic, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Thank you to everyone who took part in a fascinating series of presentations on the current challenges, future opportunities and areas of progress in ocular melanoma.
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Following the CURE OM Science Meeting, the SMR Virtual Congress was held on Wednesday, October 28 and featured many individuals who may be familiar to the MRF community:
  • Maria Soledad Sosa, PhD, a recipient of an MRF Career Development Award, gave a featured presentation during the meeting on her work with disseminated cancer cells, seeds of future metastases.
  • Jeff Meng and Usman Baquai, recipients of MRF Medical Student Research Awards, presented posters.
  • Stefani Spranger, PhD was recognized with the 2020 SMR Young Investigator Award, an annual award funded by the MRF. She presented her work on mounting a productive anti-tumor immune response.
While this year's virtual meeting was different than those of years past, the MRF is grateful for the international network of physicians, researchers and melanoma experts who overcame the challenges of a pandemic to host an event that was exciting, informative and gives hope for future progress in melanoma research. We look forward to seeing everyone (hopefully in person this time) at next year's SMR Annual Congress, October 28-31, 2021 in New Orleans!

 Medical Students: Apply for 2021 Research Funding

There is still time to apply for a 2021 Medical Student Research Award! In this grant cycle, in addition to awards focused on any aspect of melanoma research, the MRF is pleased to also offer two medical student awards focused specifically on mucosal melanoma research.

The application period opened on September 8, 2020 and will end on November 9, 2020 at 5:00 pm ET! Applicants must be a medical student in good academic standing at an accredited U.S. medical school or institution. MD and/or MD/PhD students are eligible to apply. Grant awards are $3,000 per award period, which is one year from the date of the disbursement of the award.

To learn more about this opportunity and additional grant funding available, visit the MRF Research Center and to begin the application process, download the Request for Proposals (RFP). If you have questions, please contact our office at (202) 347-9675 or email

November is #EyeGetDilated Month


November is Ocular Melanoma Awareness Month, dedicated to increasing awareness of ocular melanoma (OM) and the importance of dilated eye exams. OM is the second most common form of melanoma and the most common type of eye cancer in adults, diagnosed in approximately 2,000 people each year in the United States. OM can often have no symptoms in the early stages and is most often discovered during a routine dilated eye exam, making this fast and simple procedure an important part of a yearly wellness routine.

During the month of November, the MRF's CURE OM initiative will share stories from patients, survivors and caregivers who have faced OM to share how it has impacted their lives and what they want others to know. We will also highlight leading physicians, researchers and OM experts to provide the latest news in research and treatment, as well as what challenges and opportunities lie ahead. Last, but certainly not least, we encourage everyone to schedule their annual dilated eye exam and then share a photo (be creative!) to tell the world that #EyeGetDilated! There are more surprises in store, so make sure you follow CURE OM on Facebook and the MRF on Instagram to stay up to date on everything we have planned and how you can participate.

Don't forget about the Eyes on Cure: Patient & Caregiver Global Symposium on November 19-21, 2020 - register today!

Melanoma in the News

Below is a sample of recent melanoma and indoor tanning news.

Tamra Judge Opens Up About Overcoming Melanoma, Encourages Fans to Support the American Cancer Society,” Us Weekly

The Melanoma Research Foundation and Dayanara Torres Want You to #GetNaked!,” Melanoma Research Foundation

Dayanara Torres Posa Desnuda Por Primera Pez Para Luchar Contra El Cáncer,” People en Español

Does Medicare Cover Immunotherapy?,” Healthline

Mussels Connect Antibodies to Treat Cancer ,” EurekAlert!

Anticancer Checkpoint Inhibitor Immunotherapy Directly Suppressed by Liver Metastases,” GEN


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