Research Overview

Funding Opportunities

2014-2015 Request for Proposals

The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) announces its eighth annual Request for Proposals (RFP), soliciting translational research grant applications from scientists and clinicians around the world. The RFP calls for ideas that could lead to high impact near-term clinical application in melanoma detection, prevention, diagnosis, staging, or treatment. MRA will accept proposals for Established Investigator Awards, Pilot Awards, Young Investigator Awards, Academic-Industry Partnership Awards (Established Investigator and Teams), and Special Opportunity Awards. Several special opportunities are being made possible in collaboration with Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), and the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC). In addition, we are pleased to announce a Young Investigator award in Dermatology. During this cycle, MRA plans to award at least $7 million to new projects.


MRA Strategic Research Plan 2014-2017

The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) 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 will guide the MRA scientific portfolio for the coming 3 years.


Accelerating the Pace of Scientific Discovery through Innovation, Collaboration, and Accountability

2013 was a year in which landmark advances in melanoma research and treatment were made. Two new therapies for the treatment of metastatic melanoma were approved, bringing four new therapies to patients since 2011. These breakthroughs underscore remarkable progress that has been unfolding in the past seven years since MRA's founding. Yet, these therapies will not be the cure for most patients. With more than $60 million awarded to 144 programs worldwide, MRA has catalyzed strategic, collaborative, and accountable research efforts, moving the field toward effective treatment options for all melanoma patients as quickly as possible.

Distribution of MRA Research Awards

 Total Commitments by Science Area

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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

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“The MRA has played a fundamental role in bringing my ideas to fruition.  I work on melanoma by studying the zebrafish, a small animal that is a powerhouse of genetic research.  Although a decidedly unusual way to try and understand human melanoma, the MRA was really able to see how my approaches can lead to large insights into this disease.  Their support led to a clinical trial for patients with advanced melanoma. The MRA has risen to the top of the melanoma field and will drive the field forward faster than more traditional routes.” 

-Richard White, M.D., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center


    • More than $47 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 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.





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.