Melanoma Research Foundation
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Advancing Research, Creating Hope

From the desk of MRF CEO Kyleigh LiPira:

On Thursday, October 28, the MRF’s CURE OM initiative led its 10th Annual Global Science Meeting virtually in conjunction with the Society for Melanoma Research International Congress. A meeting that ten years ago had a handful of scientists around a table has transformed into more than 90 researchers from all over the globe, seven industry sponsors who are actively involved in clinical trials and an overall tone of optimism about what the future for this rare cancer holds. The topics ranged from a robust presentation on the CURE OM VISION Registry, the first of its kind patient-reported registry to better understand the natural history of ocular melanoma and provide data for researchers in search of a cure, to a panel of basic scientists discussing the top research challenges, to a very lively discussion on the available clinical trials for metastatic ocular melanoma patients and how clinicians work with patients to understand their available options.

Next month, the MRF will lead its third Brain Metastases Workshop, a key challenge for those with melanoma. This will be the third meeting of its kind, bringing together the brightest minds in the field to discuss topics ranging from treatment and pathogenesis to the tumor microenvironment and pre-clinical models. The last two meetings have resulted in three scientific publications that have helped propel the field. It is meetings like this that give patients hope that progress is on the horizon and new treatments will be coming. We are grateful to our medical community for their hard work and will keep advocating for the melanoma patient community until we have a cure.

Hope Changes Everything!

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MRF Presents Annual Research Awards at SMR Congress

The 18th International Congress of the Society for Melanoma Research (SMR) was held virtually on October 28-31, 2021. Research funded by the MRF - spanning from medical students to established team awards - was highlighted every day of the meeting. In addition to posters and presentations by MRF grant recipients, the MRF funded two awards presented by SMR. The Christopher J. Marshall Award was presented to Carla Daniela Robles-Espinoza, PhD for her research focused on the use of large-scale sequencing data to investigate risk factors and treatment targets in high incidence cancers in Mexico and Latin America, including acral lentiginous melanoma. The SMR Young Investigator Award was presented to James Willmott, PhD, who is recognized internationally as an emerging expert in clinical implications of genomic and immune profiles, as well as systemic therapy response biomarkers.

Through participation in conferences like SMR, hosting scientific conferences such as the CURE OM Global Science Meeting and funding more than $20.1 million in research over the past 25 years, the MRF remains committed to leading the global scientific community to new research advances, improved patient outcomes and, one day, a cure for melanoma.

MRF Leads 10th Annual Global OM Science Meeting

The 10th Annual CURE OM Global Science Meeting was held on Thursday, October 28, the first day of the 2021 SMR International Congress. This virtual meeting united the international ocular melanoma (OM) research community to provide updates and facilitate discussion in basic science, clinical trial prioritization, adjuvant therapy, treatment of metastatic disease and a promising new therapy that may soon be the first FDA-approved treatment for OM. The MRF was also proud to share a progress update and early data from the VISION Registry following its launch in May 2021 and recent expansion to a global research initiative.


#EyeGetDilated in November

November is Eye Health Awareness Month, an important opportunity to increase awareness and highlight those fighting ocular melanoma (OM), the most common form of eye cancer in adults. This year's campaign will include updated #EyeGetDilated messaging to encourage everyone to increase their "Eye-Q" by learning about ocular melanoma and eye health.

Additionally, a 3-part "Ask the Expert" series sponsored by Castle Biosciences will cover multiple OM topics on Facebook Live, with live broadcasts on Thursday, November 4, Wednesday, November 10 and Tuesday, November 16. Mark your calendars and make sure you are following the MRF Facebook page to join these informative discussions.

Follow the MRF and CURE OM on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see and share this year's OM awareness campaign, schedule a dilated eye exam and tell the world that #EyeGetDilated!

Eyes on a Cure: Patient and Caregiver Mini Symposium

The virtual Eyes on a Cure: Patient and Caregiver Mini Symposium will be held on November 19-20, 2021. During this 2-day online symposium, patients and caregivers will learn the latest news about OM research and treatment from leading experts and have the opportunity to connect with others in the community to offer support and encouragement. A draft agenda is now available, featuring sessions on the new VISION Registry, advocacy opportunities for the OM community, new therapies in the FDA pipeline and more. Registration is free and all OM patients, survivors and caregivers are invited to join the event.

Register for the Eyes on a Cure Mini Symposium

25th Anniversary: What Has Changed in Pediatric Melanoma Treatment

As the MRF continues to celebrate its 25th Anniversary, each month we are highlighting members of our scientific community who have advanced new breakthroughs in melanoma research and treatments, including those for rare melanoma subtypes. This month we shared a guest blog post by Vernon Sondak, MD, Chair of the Department of Cutaneous Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center and member of the MRF's Pediatric Melanoma Scientific Steering Committee. Dr. Sondak shares how pediatric melanoma treatments have advanced during his career, and how these new options make it more important than ever to consult with a pediatric melanoma specialist who is familiar with the latest developments in treatment. To learn more, read Dr. Sondak's blog below:

What's Changed in Pediatric Melanoma Treatment?

Medical Students: Apply by November 15

The application period for 2022 Medical Student Research Awards is closing soon! The current Request for Proposals (RFP) is open until November 15, 2021 at 5pm ET. The goal of these awards is to promote research opportunities to medical students early in their careers by funding clinical or laboratory-based research projects focused on better understanding the prevention, biology and treatment of melanoma, including its rare subtypes. The RFP is posted in the MRF Research Center, and questions about this or any other funding opportunities may be directed to

Apply for a Medical Student Research Grant

Thank you, New York!

For the first time since 2019, the New York City melanoma community was able to come together in-person and celebrate inspiring patients, survivors and healthcare heroes at the 20th Annual New York Gala, our largest and most anticipated event of the year. Led by Emmy Award-winning host, producer and New York Times best selling author Andy Cohen as gala emcee, the unforgettable evening honored two decades of melanoma patients, survivors and caregivers as well as the physicians and researchers pioneering life-saving treatment advances. Thanks to the record-breaking generosity of gala attendees, the event raised more than $1.6 million for life-saving advances in melanoma research, education and advocacy! Photos from the NYC Gala can be viewed on the MRF Facebook page at the link below, and we look forward to seeing you all again in 2022!

NYC Gala Photo Album

7th Annual Chicago Gala

After two incredible events in Denver and New York City, all eyes are on Chicago for the final gala of 2021! On Thursday, November 4, the Chicago melanoma community will unite to honor courageous patients, melanoma advocates and leading physicians at the 7th Annual Chicago Gala at Revel Fulton Market. The MRF is honored to welcome back Emmy Award-winning journalist and WGN Midday News Anchor Dina Bair as our gala emcee. Sunandana Chandra, MD, MS will be recognized with the Humanitarian Award for the unparalleled compassion with which she treats her patients. For their commitment to melanoma prevention and education, the Excellence in Prevention Award will be presented to Tracy Campbell, MD and Jessica Sheehan, MD. ChicagoNow blogger Howard Moore will be honored with the inaugural Influencer Award for his commitment to increasing melanoma awareness through his online platform. The Corporate Leadership Award will be presented to our partners at Johnson & Johnson and Walgreens for their longstanding commitment to sun safety and skin health.

In addition to an inspiring program to celebrate our honorees, the Chicago Gala will feature exciting live entertainment, a silent auction with once-in-a-lifetime items and experiences, and a chance to unlock the next research breakthrough during the live Fund-A-Grant. Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are still available; click below to purchase yours today!

Attend the MRF Chicago Gala

Miles for Melanoma in the Home Stretch

As the Miles for Melanoma season races towards the finish line, our community came together for two exciting run/walks in October. The Miles for Melanoma DC 5k was held on October 9, followed by the Miles for Melanoma Chicago 5k on October 23. In total, our incredible supporters in DC and Chicago raised $170,000 at these events - thank you!

West Coast, you're up next! The 2021 Miles for Melanoma season will conclude with three final events in San Diego (November 13), San Francisco (November 14) and Los Angeles (January 22, 2022). We can't wait to see and celebrate with our California friends to wrap up our return to in-person run/walks and Celebration Ceremonies.

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

Countdown to Giving Tuesday

Save the date! Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, November 30 is Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving to support the causes and organizations that mean the most to you. Last year, our community showed incredible generosity in trying times and raised over $100,000 to support melanoma research, education and advocacy! Our goal is another record breaking campaign in 2021, with multiple contests, special messages and surprises planned throughout the day. Stay tuned for more information about this year's Giving Tuesday campaign, and click below to learn about the many ways you can support the MRF:

Ways to Give

Upcoming Events

  • November 11: MRF Brain Metastasis Summit 3.0
  • November 30: Giving Tuesday
  • November 30: MRF Pigmented Lesion Consensus Conference
  • December 6: Fall MRF Breakthrough Consortium Virtual Meeting

View MRF Events



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