From February 26-28, MRA welcomed more than 300 leaders from academia, industry, nonprofits, and government to Washington, DC, for two days of intensive meetings on all things melanoma at the 6th Annual Scientific Retreat.
The 2014 meeting set several important records for MRA, including the number, caliber, and breadth of attendees from across the continuum of the melanoma community. Attendees representing 77 institutions, 29 companies, more than a dozen collaborating foundations and many engaged patients from around the world joined us for this impactful meeting. Retreat attendees heard cutting-edge results from the world’s leading melanoma researchers, as well as testimonials from melanoma patients directly impacted by this work. MRA also convened a meeting of like-minded melanoma foundations to foster collaborations across the nonprofit space, hosted a solutions-oriented session with industry and FDA to discuss new models for advancing earlier stage therapies, and presented a lunchtime discussion panel featuring MRA Board Members Michael Milken and Senator Connie Mack, and journalist and author Cokie Roberts.
The program featured cutting-edge research results from MRA-funded programs as well as presentations on other topics of interest. An overarching theme of the meeting was the development of combination therapies for metastatic melanoma, in particular the integration of immunotherapies and kinase inhibitors. Research is indicating that drug combinations will be required for long-term control and cure of most patients. The identification of biomarkers is a key component to the rational development and testing of combinations of therapies, and many speakers discussed their research in this area as well. Another key feature of this year’s meeting was its multi-disciplinary nature as scientists with expertise in a variety of clinical fields (oncology, dermatology, surgery) and scientific disciplines (molecular biology, cell biology, immunology, chemistry, systems biology, informatics, and others) gathered with a common mission – eliminating melanoma as a cause of death and suffering.
The meeting was electric with optimism and potential for life-saving progress. As scientists presented their research findings, explored collaborations across disciplines and sectors, and engaged in discussions about improving patient outcomes, it was apparent that we are turning the corner on melanoma.
Our Retreat, and indeed our research mission, would not be possible without the support of our founders, allies, and donors.