About MRA » Letter from the President
It is an extraordinarily hopeful time in the field of melanoma research as we continue to see progress for patients in research and the clinic. Building on this momentum, MRA recently convened its 7th Annual Scientific Retreat, bringing more than 250 leaders from academia, industry, patient advocacy, and government together to discuss the latest science and emerging trends in the field of melanoma research. The caliber of the work, the commitment to collaboration, and the continued promise in the field were clearly on display throughout the retreat.
The retreat began with a panel session featuring patients and industry leaders telling their personal stories reflecting the breadth of progress with effective new treatments in targeted therapy and immune-therapy.
The retreat agenda featured talks by more than two dozen MRA-funded investigators who are world leaders in melanoma science and clinical research, as well as a keynote delivered by NIH Director Francis Collins. A highlight came when 17-year-old melanoma researcher and Intel Science Talent Search finalist Emily Ashkin, shared her passion for melanoma research as she introduced Dr. Collins. As has become our custom, we convened the growing group of MRA-funded Young Investigators to explore key issues in clinical translation and hosted a meeting to discuss issues in optimizing the use of latest treatment options for patients. The retreat concluded with a special lecture by renowned immunologist Dr. Jim Allison from MD Anderson Cancer Center and a heartfelt summation by MRA Board Member Jeffrey Rowbottom.
It was truly a convergence of the brightest stars in the field and a community dedicated to achieving MRA’s mission of defeating melanoma. As one attendee remarked, it felt like the Oscars for melanoma!
The retreat was a success by every measure, yet there is still much work to do. We heard from patients, advocates, and families of melanoma victims who compel us to continue the important work we’re doing to save lives. Your ongoing support remains critical, and we thank you for it.
This is especially true as we turn our attention now to the exciting task of awarding MRA’s 2015 grants. This year’s process is among the most competitive we’ve seen, with proposals from leading individuals and teams from around the world. Our expert Grant Review Committee met last week to consider this year’s finalists and make recommendations to the MRA Board of Directors as we work to finalize this year’s slate of at least $8 million in new grants. Stay tuned for an announcement in the coming weeks.
The retreat represented a time of reflection and deep pride for me, as I prepare to step down as President and CEO of the MRA at the end of March to begin the next exciting chapter in my professional life as I launch my own consulting venture, WSCollaborative, where I look forward to helping non-profit organizations and the for-profit sector build innovative collaborations that will be mutually beneficial and advance progress for patients. It has been an extraordinary five years to be at the helm of this unique organization. The progress we have made together in advancing science for melanoma patients and all at risk of this terrible disease has been exciting and deeply rewarding.
The search for a new leader is underway, and you’ll continue to hear from the capable team and Board of Directors at the MRA who will no doubt continue to push the boundaries of melanoma research to new heights. Margaret Anderson, who currently serves as Secretary of MRA’s Board of Directors and Executive Director of FasterCures, will step in as interim leader until a new President is named. Margaret has been deeply engaged in the activities of MRA since its inception in 2007, and will apply her expertise in medical research and venture philanthropy to advance our work and ensure a seamless transition.
It has been my honor and pleasure to be your partner in this effort to stop melanoma. Thank you for your friendship and unwavering support of our work.
Wendy K.D. Selig
President and CEO
MELANOMA RESEARCH ALLIANCE FOUNDATION (Melanoma Research Alliance; MRA) is a GuideStar Exchange Gold Participant Want to learn more about the GuideStar Exchange?
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