Research Overview

Since its founding in 2007, the Melanoma Research Alliance has committed more than $67 million to fund melanoma research. With an additional $73 million leveraged from additional sources, MRA has catalyzed strategic, collaborative, and accountable research efforts, moving the field toward effective treatment options for all melanoma patients as quickly as possible. 

MRA supports both individual investigator and collaborative team projects focused on translational, innovative research that will impact the prevention, diagnosis, staging, and treatment of melanoma in the near and intermediate future.

Recent landmark advances in melanoma treatment have provided new options for patients, and melanoma stands as the case study for state-of-the-art cancer drug development, precision medicine and immunotherapy.

 

RFP and Grants Review

The Melanoma Research Alliance announces its Request for Proposals (RFP) by September, soliciting translational research grant applications from scientists and clinicians around the world. In the latest round, MRA awarded more than $13 million in total funding, including $7.5 million from MRA in response to its 2014-2015 Request for proposals.

All proposals undergo rigorous peer review by the MRA Grant Review Committee, comprised of experts in diverse areas of translational cancer research. The GRC operates under guidelines that ensure objective review by the committee. Of note, GRC members who are Principal Investigators on applications do not participate in the review of any applications. Members who have other conflicts with specific proposals may not review or vote on such proposals. Final funding decisions are ratified by the MRA Board of Directors. Full-term funding is contingent upon review of annual progress reports and other oversight activities conducted by MRA.

 

MRA Strategic Research Plan

The Melanoma Research Alliance updated its Scientific Strategy in November 2013. MRA's Scientific Advisory Panel and other experts provided feedback on the treatment arena which combined with its prevention and diagnosis/staging objectives form a revised Strategic Research Plan that is guiding the MRA scientific portfolio for the coming three years.

 

Accelerating Progress

With three new treatment approvals by the FDA, 2014 saw the latest in a series of major advances in melanoma treatments since MRA’s founding in 2007.  Beginning in 2011, the FDA approved new melanoma treatments for the first time in several decades. As of today, the FDA has approved a total of eight treatments for melanoma, underscoring the remarkable progress that has been made in a very short time period.

With the significant infusion of research funds into the field provided by MRA, melanoma is leading the field of oncology in the development of targeted treatments and new immunotherapies for cancer patients. The data that MRA-funded scientists are generating is benefiting cancer researchers in many fields, including those studying colon, breast, brain, pancreatic, kidney, prostate, bladder, leukemia, lymphoma, and lung cancer.

Yet, these therapies will not be the cure for most patients, so continuing to support melanoma research is critical.

Innovation

MRA supports both individual investigator and collaborative team projects focused on translational, innovative research that will impact the prevention, diagnosis, staging, and treatment of melanoma in the near and intermediate future. In just a few years, tangible outcomes and promising early research results are advancing the understanding of melanoma etiology and progression and developing new therapies for patients with advanced disease.

 

MRA-Funded Research Wins Additional Support

Through innovative collaborative funding programs with companies, institutions, and foundations, MRA has infused additional funds into melanoma research, and the results are impacting the field of oncology as a whole. 

  • More than $73 million in additional research funding leveraged from other sources by MRA investigators. The majority of this funding was granted by two sources: U.S. National Institutes of Health and other foundations.
  • 18 clinical trials supported by MRA to test promising agents alone and in combination for the treatment of metastatic melanoma.
  • 17 patent applications filed for new technology, which have the potential to be developed into new tools or treatments for patients.
  • More than 100 papers published in high-impact journals describing research results supported by MRA, which inform the scientific and clinical communities about promising new research so that others may build upon the results to help patients.
  • More than 145 collaborations initiated and strengthened between academic, government, and industry scientists, which enhance sharing of information and fast-forwarding of the research.
  • Approximately 450 presentations delivered by MRA investigators at medical and scientific meetings around the world, where research results are shared and the profile of MRA is enhanced.

 

Collaboration

Collaboration is at MRA's core-from the team approaches to research that we fund, to the way we find partners who can help us realize our vision. Of note:

  • MRA has co-funded research projects with premier cancer research foundations including the Melanoma Research Foundation, Cancer Research Institute, Canadian Cancer Society, American Association for Cancer Research, and The Safeway Foundation.
  • MRA selected eleven Academic-Industry Partnership Awards that are supporting projects in conjunction with matched contributions from an industry partner whose participation is essential to the project. Current Industry Partners are Canfield Scientific Inc, Celldex Therapeutics, Altor BioScience Corporation, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Aduro BioTech, GSK, Plexxikon, and Merck.
  • MRA and Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C) are jointly funding a Melanoma Dream Team at the level of $6 million in 2012. This groundbreaking award will represent the largest single grant for melanoma research and the first collaboration of its kind with SU2C.


Accountability

All proposals undergo rigorous peer review by the MRA Grant Review Committee, comprised of experts in diverse areas of translational cancer research. The GRC operates under guidelines that ensure objective review by the committee. Of note, GRC members who are Principal Investigators on applications do not participate in the review of any applications. Members who have other conflicts with specific proposals may not review or vote on such proposals. Final funding decisions are ratified by the MRA Board of Directors. Full-term funding is contingent upon review of annual progress reports and other oversight activities conducted by MRA.