Finance Industry Rallies to Fight Melanoma

By Rachel Gazzerro, MRA Associate Director, Development & Information Management | 3 April 2017 | Allies & Partnerships, Events

blog apr17 lffm

Spotlighted in publications like Forbes, Bloomberg and The New York Times, the Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma (LFFM) event, sponsored annually in New York City by the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) has become the premier gathering of professionals from the leveraged finance, private equity, and investment communities – all gathered together in response to melanoma.

Some of the most prominent names in the industry —Carl Icahn, Mike Milken, Leon Black, Henry Kravis and Howard Marks—have been featured at LFFM, where the movers and shakers of the finance industry gather each May to network, have fun, and help MRA accelerate treatments and cures in the fight against melanoma by leveraging support that vastly enhances funding for research grants.

Melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, is in most cases preventable, yet the rate of incidence is rising at remarkable rates, with projections for 2017 increasing by 14% from 2016. Participants are often surprised to find that it is one of the most common cancers in young adults. Yet, because risk increases with age, the average stage of life for those diagnosed is near retirement — at 63.

Scheduled just prior to the start of summer’s Memorial Day weekend, MRA’s LFFM event not only raises funds critical for continuing research, but reverberates a critical message to those heading to the waterfront for fun in the sun. Prevention is key to lowering the risk of being diagnosed with melanoma.  Each year, the event’s participants learn about the staggering statistics and daunting reality of melanoma. Part and parcel of the event is when attendees sign up for the skin check pledge, committing to have their skin examined by a dermatologist within 6 months if they haven’t already.

Core to the event is the goal to raise critical dollars to advance treatments and cures for melanoma. Founded in 2011 by Jeffrey Rowbottom of PSP Investments and Brendan Dillon of UBS—both of whom combatted melanoma—the Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma Event has raised over $6.8 million that goes directly to research. While the Melanoma Research Alliance awards $8-10 million each year, the LFFM raises 15- 20% of that year’s funding alone, proving to be an indispensable source of revenue for research.

On the whole, the landscape has changed dramatically for melanoma patients since MRA’s founding in 2007, with 11 of the 13 treatment options coming to market since the kick-off of this annual event. The LFFM awards specifically focus on improving therapies, by understanding cellular and molecular underpinnings of how tumors respond to and often resist treatments. Over the years, the data generated from MRA funded research has informed other cancer types, changing the landscape for not only melanoma, but for over 30 types of cancer.


Join us to end melanoma on May 24, 2017.

See our photo gallery to view previous LFFM events. 


The 2017 Leveraged Finance Fights Melanoma Event is chaired by Brendan Dillon of UBS; George Mueller of KKR; Lee Grinberg of Elliott Management; Jeff Rowbottom of PSP Investments; Cade Thompson of KKR and Trevor Watt of Hellman & Friedman. To learn more about tickets, visit or contact Rachel Gazzerro by phone (202) 336-8947 or email

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