MRA and the Drumbeat of Progress

Spurred into Action: Determined to Make Big Change

In 2007, when I was diagnosed with Stage II melanoma, there were few treatment options available. In fact, for those diagnosed with late-stage melanoma, only two FDA-approved treatments were available, delivering only a 16% chance of five-year survival. But after dealing with my own immediate health concerns, my husband Leon and I knew we could do more—and that we had to do more. And, so we turned to our dear friend, Mike Milken, to change the melanoma landscape.

Together, building on Mike’s experience in medical research, public health, and philanthropy, MRA was founded under the auspices of the Milken Institute. The goal was clear: to end suffering and death due to melanoma.

Ten years later, the transformative force of MRA has been made evident, but there is still much more to do.

Debra Black

Chair & Co-Founder


Today, we are at an unprecedented moment in the field of melanoma. Since MRA was founded in 2007, 11 new treatments have expanded the arsenal of FDA-approved treatment options. This doubled the five-year survival rate for melanoma patients with advanced disease.

This progress is incredible, but it is only the beginning.

Melanoma research has energized the entire field of oncology and charted a new course in cancer treatment for a variety of tumor types. Immunotherapies first approved for melanoma are now approved to treat patients with seven other types of cancer and are being tested in more than 30 cancers in total.

Over the past 10 years, MRA has invested $88 million—and leveraged an additional $89.5 million—to support 233 different research projects across 15 different countries. Our research has looked at 73 unique therapeutic approaches, and has touched all 11 new treatments approved by the FDA since our founding. MRA is on the forefront of accelerating research and saving the lives of people touched by melanoma.

While we honor and celebrate these achievements, we know we still have more to do. Though we’ve made enormous progress improving the five-year survival rate, the reality is that the vast majority of patients confronted with a late-stage diagnosis still are not benefiting from new treatments. Novel treatment targets must continue to be discovered, new combinations of existing treatments tested, approaches to early detection improved, and strategies to prevent melanomas strengthened.

We know we can transform the treatment landscape; we’ve done it. The first 10 years of MRA has not only accelerated new treatment options offering hope to thousands diagnosed each year with late stage melanoma, but is just the start to achieving our ultimate goal. Together, in partnership with government, industry, patients, and researchers we are confident MRA will achieve its mission to end suffering and death due to melanoma. We will continue to push forward until we have an effective cure for melanoma and an end to the suffering and death it causes.

In this report, we are proud to share highlights from the last 10 years, including the research we’ve funded, the partnerships we’ve forged, and progress we’ve made. These advancements not only improve patient outcomes, they also move us all that much closer to our goal of curing melanoma.

Debra Black

Chair & Co-Founder

Michael Kaplan

President and CEO