Melanoma Research Foundation
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Advancing Translational Melanoma Research

From the desk of MRF CEO Kyleigh LiPira:

Twenty-five years ago, stage four melanoma patient, Diana Ashby dreamt that one day, clinician-scientists would seek out the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) to fund their breakthrough research. She hoped that it would be so competitive, with so many in the field, that only the most innovative and dynamic proposals would be funded. Today, her dream is a reality and to-date, the MRF has funded over $20.1 million of those cutting-edge proposals which has led to over 200 publications, 400 presentations, 6 patents and 20 clinical trials, as well as 16 FDA approved treatments for melanoma.

As a foundation that is committed to funding the best and brightest, we are thrilled to announce our most recent Breakthrough Consortium Team Science Award funded by Bristol Myers Squibb is to a dynamic team at MD Anderson Cancer Center and UT Southwestern Medical Center who will be leading a project titled “Control of Anti-Tumor Response by the Modulation of Neurotransmitter-Expressing Immune Cells.” This is the MRF’s 11th Team Science Award. It is thought that by bringing together investigators from multiple institutions to collaborate on one central problem, results will be obtained more quickly. Similar to our founder, we continue to believe that future breakthroughs will only occur by investing in scientific research.

Many donors support the MRF’s research grant program in areas ranging from prevention to diagnosis to treatment. Grant funding opportunities range from Medical Student Awards ($3000) to Career Development Awards ($100,000), Established Investigator Awards ($200,000) and Team Science Awards ($250,000—$500,000). We are grateful for their investment in dynamic research that will enable better outcomes for patients and their families. If you interested in supporting a research grant, please contact

Support the MRF

Team Research Grant Awarded in Hopes to Enhance Patients Response to Immunotherapy

The MRF is pleased to announce the recipients of the MRF Breakthrough Consortium-Bristol Myers Squibb (MRFBC-BMS) Young Investigator Translational Immuno-Oncology Team Science Award! Congratulations to Didem Cobanoglu, PhD (MD Anderson Cancer Center; Mentor: James Allison, PhD), Murat Can Cobanoglu, PhD (UT Southwestern; Mentor: Gaudenz Danuser, PhD) and Satwik Rajaram, PhD (UT Southwestern; Mentor: James Malter, MD) for their proposal titled, Control of Anti-Tumor Response by the Modulation of Neurotransmitter-Expressing Immune Cells. Through the modulation of neurotransmitter signaling, the study team hopes to enhance patient response to immunotherapy.

Offered through the MRFBC and made possible by the generous support of Bristol Myers Squibb, the goal of this 2-year, $300,000 award is to identify and support the next generation of melanoma scientists, improve clinical outcomes for patients with melanoma, and to better understand the role the immune system plays in melanoma. Visit the MRF Research Center to read more about this study, meet previous grant recipients and learn about the additional funding opportunities offered by the MRF.

MRF Funded Research

25th Anniversary: Researching Rare Melanomas

As the MRF continues to celebrate its 25th Anniversary, each month we are highlighting members of the scientific community who have received vital research funding through the MRF and have helped new breakthroughs in melanoma research and treatments. This month we shared a guest blog post by Florian Karreth, PhD of Moffitt Cancer Center. Dr. Karreth was awarded a 2018 Career Development Award for the study of mucosal melanoma, funded by The Cavan Foundation. By generating mouse models of mucosal melanoma, the MRF-funded research in Dr. Karreth's lab has sparked other local research initiatives into other rare subtypes like acral melanoma and pediatric melanoma. To learn more, read Dr. Karreth's blog below:

Advancing Rare Melanoma Research

Calling All Researchers! Deadlines Extended for 2021 Research Funding

The Department of Defense Melanoma Research Program (MRP) is currently accepting applications for five multi-year research awards ranging from $500,000 to $1.3 million. The application deadline for two awards is quickly approaching on Wednesday, August 4, while the remaining three award mechanisms have extended the application period until Thursday, September 9, 2021.

The MRF recently partnered with Donna Kimbark, PhD, Program Manager of the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (CDMRP), to create a new webinar that explains the federal application process and tips to increase the chance of an application being selected. Dr. Kimbark has worked at the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program since 2002, managing funding programs for multiple disease types and leading the Funding Opportunities Advancement team, where she coordinates the creation and approval of grant solicitations. Watch the webinar here, and for more information about the current MRP funding opportunities, visit the DoD Melanoma Research Program page.

Apply for Federal Research Funding

Ocular Melanoma Patients: Register Today

Join the VISION Registry! In May, the MRF's CURE OM initiative launched the VISION Registry: a first of its kind patient reported ocular melanoma (OM) registry. What are the possible causes of OM? How can it be more effectively treated to improve outcomes? The VISION Registry will help to answer these questions and more by uniting OM patients and caregivers with leading physicians and scientists in groundbreaking research efforts to develop more effective treatments and, one day, a cure for OM. To learn more about this historic initiative and to join the VISION Registry, click below.

Join the VISION Registry

FDA Seeks Patient Insight: Apply Today

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently accepting applications for the next cohort of the Patient Engagement Collaborative (PEC). Established in 2018 in collaboration with the Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative (CTTI), the PEC is a group of patient organizations and individual representatives who discuss ways to enhance patient engagement. The CTTI and the FDA collaborate to incorporate a variety of perspectives including patients, caregivers and representatives from diverse patient organizations like the MRF.

Applications are accepted through August 23, 2021 and must include a current Curriculum Vitae or resume that shows relevant activities and experience, and an endorsement letter from a patient advocacy organization like the MRF (PDF preferred for both). Please contact MRF Senior Advocacy Officer Cassie Beisel at if you are interested in submitting an application, and then click below to learn more about the PEC and how to apply.

Join the FDA Patient Engagement Collaborative

Your Thoughts Matter: Share Your Experience with Diagnostic Testing

The MRF is conducting a national cutaneous melanoma (CM) research study sponsored by Castle Biosciences, and this is the last chance to participate before it closes on Saturday, August 7.

This 5-10 minute survey is completely anonymous and your responses will be very valuable for the CM community. If you would like to participate, please click on the link below and you will be taken directly to an online questionnaire that will ask about your experiences as a patient with CM. We hope that you will consider participating.

Upon completion of the survey, please email for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Take the Cutaneous Melanoma Survey

Register Now! 2021 Pediatric Melanoma Summit

The MRF's Pediatric Melanoma Summit is quickly approaching! This year's event will be held at the Great Wolf Lodge in Phoenix, AZ from September 24-26, 2021. Educational topics include: transitioning patients and parents to adolescent and young adult (AYA) oncology care; insight into understanding your child's pathology and radiology reports; and COVID-19 vaccines for pediatric patients. Don't miss these and other great topics at this year's in-person summit! Registration is FREE but is required by August 27, 2021 in order to reserve your space. For more information and to register, click below:


Racing to the Next Research Breakthrough

Supporting life-saving melanoma research is made possible by the dedicated members of our community who raise critically needed funds at Miles for Melanoma run/walks each year. Following the first six virtual run/walks so far in 2021, Miles for Melanoma participants have already raised more than $400,000!

After such a strong start, next up is Miles for Melanoma Cleveland, the very first in-person run/walk of 2021! On Sunday, August 1, the dedicated Cleveland community - which has already exceeded their original fundraising goal - will come together to walk, run and raise money to support the MRF's mission to cure melanoma. Later this month, the Miles for Melanoma 2021 tour is headed to the Twin Cities (August 21) and Philadelphia (August 28) to celebrate our incredible supporters in those communities who are racing towards their own fundraising goals.

Can't attend in person? Download the new Miles for Melanoma app to track your fastest times, view top teams on the leaderboard and more! Download the free app in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

The MRF thanks Miles for Melanoma National Sponsors Neutrogena, Coolibar, Novartis, Natera and Pfizer. For the full calendar of 2021 Miles for Melanoma events, click here:

Miles for Melanoma Event Calendar

Attend a Gala!

In addition to celebrating courageous melanoma patients and leading medical experts, MRF galas have raised over $15.3 million for melanoma research, education and advocacy! After a successful series of virtual galas in 2020, we're excited to return to in-person celebrations at the 10th Annual Denver Gala on September 23, the 20th Annual New York Gala on October 14 and the 7th Annual Chicago Gala on November 4!

At the Denver Gala, the MRF will present a Legacy Award to Karl Lewis, MD, the inaugural Influencer Award to Scott A. Walter, MD, and the Leadership Award to Elise A. Barish.

In New York, Johnson & Johnson and Walgreens will be recognized with a Corporate Leadership Award (and will also be recognized at the Chicago Gala), Nobel Laureate James P. Allison, PhD will be honored with a Legacy Award, Muneeb Shah, DO will receive the Influencer Award and MRF Board Vice Chair Steven Silverstein will be presented with a Leadership Award.

At the Chicago Gala, Sunandana Chandra, MD, MS will be recognized with a Humanitarian Award and Excellence in Prevention Awards will be presented to Tracy Campbell, MD and Jessica Sheehan, MD. ChicagoNow blogger Howard Moore will receive the Influencer Award.

For more information about each of the 2021 MRF Galas, including tickets and sponsorship opportunities, visit the MRF Galas page.

Boost Your Summer Style and Support the MRF

Do you want to show your support for the melanoma community and increase awareness about the life-saving importance of early detection? Check out the MRF online store! Purchase official gear from the #GetNaked and #EyeGetDilated campaigns, as well as a brand new versatile tote bag celebrating the MRF's 25th Anniversary. Shop for the perfect gift or treat yourself knowing that every purchase supports the MRF's work to increase melanoma research, education and advocacy.

Shop Now

Pledge to Get A Skin Check and DermTech Will Donate $5 to the MRF! #StickIt2Melanoma

Over the last year and a half, countless dermatologist exams were missed due to the pandemic, resulting in many melanomas going undiagnosed. Our partners at DermTech are committed to reversing this trend and ending preventable melanoma deaths, so they launched the #StickIt2Melanoma pledge campaign. For every person who pledges to schedule a skin exam in the next 30 days, DermTech will donate $5 to their nonprofit partners including the MRF - up to 1 million dollars! After taking the pledge yourself, use the hashtag #StickIt2Melanoma to challenge others to do the same, and DermTech will donate another $5!

Make your appointment today and #StickIt2Melanoma!

Take the Pledge

Upcoming Events

  • Date TBD: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma Los Angeles
  • November 13: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma San Diego
  • November 14: Save the Date - Miles for Melanoma San Francisco

View MRF Events



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