Melanoma Research Foundation
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More Than Just Skin Cancer

When most people think of melanoma, they think of a cancer that only affects older people with light skin. While cutaneous (skin) melanoma is the most common type, there are more rare forms like mucosal, ocular and pediatric melanoma that occur elsewhere on the body and in children and adolescents. Although melanoma is relatively uncommon in people of color, when it is diagnosed, it is often diagnosed in later stages, making treatment more difficult. In 2020, the MRF awarded a Medical Student Research Award to Samantha Black for a study to improve melanoma screening education among physicians treating patients with skin of color, which she explains in a new guest blog post.

February 28 is Rare Disease Day, and all month long our community has been working to raise awareness of the rare subtypes of melanoma. MRF Board member and ocular melanoma (OM) survivor Mark Weinzierl recently shared a guest blog post about his experience with OM, and why it is so important to support research, education and advocacy for those in the rare melanoma community. Click below to read Mark's story and learn how you can get involved:

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Mucosal Melanoma: Out of the Shadows

Mucosal melanoma is a very rare form of melanoma that occurs on mucosal surfaces of the body like the mouth, nasal passages and sinuses. It can also affect "private" areas of the body that aren't always comfortable to talk about. This month, the MRF launched #OutOfTheShadows, our latest melanoma awareness campaign to share the stories of courageous mucosal melanoma survivors like James and Eileen, and caregivers like Aaron who writes in honor of his mother. To learn more about this rare disease and help bring it #OutOfTheShadows, visit the page below.

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Anniversary Highlight: CURE OM at 10

Founded in 2011 by Dr. Sara Selig and her husband, psychologist and ocular melanoma (OM) patient, Dr. Gregg Stracks, CURE OM (Community United for Research and Education of Ocular Melanoma) is the MRF’s initiative to increase awareness, education and research funding for OM, while improving the lives of people affected by this disease. Less than a year after its inception, CURE OM hosted its first patient symposium in 2012 in partnership with Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. The first Eyes on a Cure: OM Patient and Caregiver Symposium was very similar to what the current symposia looks like today with experts in the OM field bringing the latest in research and science to patients and caregivers to help the OM community unite and bring hope. Since the first symposium, we have been thrilled to see how this patient and caregiver meeting has grown to include the global OM community as well as a wide variety of topics. Starting in 2018 we began featuring a wellness track which includes activities such as art therapy, family communication workshops, yoga and more. For our 2020 meeting, due to COVID-19, we adapted to host our first virtual Global Eyes on a Cure event, bringing together co-hosts from Canada, Australia, Ireland and the United Kingdom! Follow the link below to learn more about the CURE OM initiative and see recordings from past symposia!


Rare Disease Day 2021

February 28 is Rare Disease Day, an occasion to raise awareness and support those fighting rare diseases like acral, ocular, pediatric and mucosal melanoma. On that day, the MRF will celebrate the courage and commitment of these communities by promoting education and awareness for each rare melanoma subtype and sharing the voices of those they affect. Make sure you are following the MRF on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn to see and share these inspiring stories, and visit the page below to learn how you can help increase awareness of rare melanoma subtypes:

Increase Melanoma Awareness

MRF Advocacy Days

The largest melanoma advocacy event of the year is here! For over a decade, melanoma patients, caregivers and advocates from all across the country have come to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers, share their stories and ensure that the fight against melanoma remains a national priority. Even though gathering in person is not possible this year, the issues at stake are too important to ignore. MRF Advocacy Days will be held virtually this year on March 1-5, 2021, featuring a full agenda of advocacy trainings, policy briefings, guest speakers and more! The MRF has also scheduled virtual meetings with lawmakers and Congressional offices for participants in each state delegation, allowing them to share their stories and advocate for our policy objectives. Click below to learn more about the event and our key legislative asks for 2021.

The MRF thanks Platinum Level Sponsor Bristol Myers Squibb, Gold Level Sponsor Pfizer and Silver Level Sponsor Novartis for their support of MRF Advocacy Days.

MRF Advocacy Days

Medical Student Research Awards Announced

In addition to research teams and established investigators, the MRF is proud to support individual researchers at the beginning of their scientific careers. Medical Student Awards promote scientific inquiry and encourage young investigators to pursue a career in melanoma science. In February, the MRF announced the award of 11 new Medical Student Research Awards, including those supporting studies of the rare forms of acral and mucosal melanoma. 10 of the 11 awards were donor-funded, showing the direct impact our generous community has on advancing life-saving melanoma science. To learn how you can financially support future research opportunities, please email

Since 2011, the MRF has now awarded 80 Medical Student Research Awards, establishing a strong and growing foundation for the future of melanoma research. Visit the MRF Research Center to meet the newest members of the MRF scientific community and learn about their important work.

MRF Funded Research

Research Funding: Apply by March 15

Don't forget: a melanoma research funding opportunity is currently available, but the application period closes soon! The 2021 MRF Breakthrough Consortium-Bristol Myers Squibb (MRFBC-BMS) Young Investigator Translational Immuno-Oncology Team Science Award is accepting applications through March 15, 2021. For more information about this award and application instructions, download the Request for Proposals (RFP) and apply today!

Apply Now

You Hold the Keys to a Cure

In honor of the MRF's 25th Anniversary, we are launching our 25th Anniversary Unlock the Cure virtual event on Monday, March 1st! You have a chance to win a variety of exciting items generously donated by our corporate and cause marketing partners. Proceeds from fundraisers like Unlock the Cure help advance the MRF’s mission to eradicate melanoma by accelerating medical RESEARCH while EDUCATING to and ADVOCATING for the melanoma community. Together, our collective efforts make an impact and we can fund more research, support newly diagnosed patients and their families and be the strongest advocate possible for the melanoma community.

One winner will be randomly selected every Friday in May 2021, and the ticket deadline for each drawing is at 8pm ET on the Thursday before. For more information, official rules and an early look at the items you can win, click here:

Unlock the Cure

Leaving a Legacy

Every year, the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is among numerous charitable organizations who are the recipients of bequests from altruistic donors.

Bequests through a will or a trust (or other planned gifts, such as a life insurance policy or a retirement plan), can provide critical sources of support. These impactful gifts enable the MRF to sustain and expand programs to support patients and those who provide care for them.

There is a small but growing group who, unbeknownst to us, have provided the MRF with a planned gift. Without these "secret admirers," the MRF would not be the strong and effective voice for the melanoma community that we are today.

We are humbled and honored to have the opportunity to carry forward these legacy gifts. At the same time, our wish would be to thank the donor properly for their generosity during their lifetime.

If you have made plans to leave a legacy through a planned gift to the MRF, we encourage you to share that information with us, with full confidentiality, so we can thank you now and honor your intentions.

Perhaps you are just beginning your plans or currently working with a financial advisor. Our team can provide resources, review various gift options, and offer guidance on vehicles that align with your philanthropic goals.

Regardless of where you are in your estate planning, your legacy gift ensures you will be joining a select group of dedicated MRF donors who truly are at the very heart of our mission.

For more information, or to let us know that you have already included the MRF in your estate plans, please visit our Give page and select the Planned Giving tab or contact us at

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Know Now with New Webinars

While we look forward to returning to in-person patient meetings as soon as it is safe to do so, the MRF is committed to continuing melanoma education and providing the most up-to-date information available to patients and caregivers through virtual learning platforms. This month, the MRF shared two webinars related to BRAF testing, a genetic mutation that occurs in approximately half of all melanoma cases and can affect a patient's treatment plan. The first, The Why, When and Who of BRAF Testing for Melanoma, was presented by Dr. Jason Luke, Director of the Cancer Therapeutics Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The second, by Dr. Suraj Venna, Medical Director at the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Center at Inova Schar Cancer Institute, discussed the Importance of BRAF Testing for Melanoma Patients. These latest webinars were part of the Novartis Know Now campaign, encouraging melanoma patients to be tested for a genetic mutation (BRAF+) that can help their doctor determine the most effective treatment option.

MRF Webinar Library

Now Open: MRF Online Shop

Show your support for the melanoma community and help increase awareness with brand new MRF apparel! Check out the MRF's custom Bonfire store, where you can get all your favorite #GetNaked & #EyeGetDilated apparel, with additional items coming soon! Proceeds raised will directly support the MRF's mission to increase melanoma research, education and advocacy. Pick up a gift for a loved one or simply treat yourself, and don’t forget to check out all of our cause marketing partners who share in our mission and support our work.

Shop Now

Need Support? Ask an Angel

As a melanoma patient or caregiver, it's important to have a strong support network behind you. The MRF is proud to partner with Imerman Angels to provide free, one-on-one support services for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. This resource connects support seekers with "Mentor Angels" who have been affected by melanoma, including rare subtypes like ocular, mucosal and pediatric melanoma, and can offer thoughtful and practical support. Patient, survivor and caregiver volunteers who want to help those currently facing melanoma can also apply to become Mentor Angels themselves. To apply as a support seeker or volunteer angel, visit the Imerman Angels website and get involved today!

Imerman Angels

Upcoming Events

  • June 12: Save the Date - Virtual Miles for Melanoma Denver
  • June 19: Save the Date - Virtual Miles for Melanoma Florida (NEW for 2021!)
  • June 26: Save the Date - Virtual Miles for Melanoma Atlanta
  • July 1: Save the Date - Virtual Miles for Melanoma Texas (NEW for 2021!)
  • August 1: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma Cleveland
  • August 21: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma Twin Cities
  • August 28: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma Philadelphia
  • September 11: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma Boston
  • September 19: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma New Jersey
  • September 23: Denver Gala
  • September 25: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma Chicago
  • October 9: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma DC
  • October 14: New York Gala
  • November 4: Chicago Gala
  • Date TBD: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma New York City
  • Date TBD: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma Los Angeles
  • Date TBD: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma San Diego
  • Date TBD: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma San Francisco

View MRF Events



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