Priority Area Announcement: Melanoma Biomarker Development

The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) is pleased to announce a Request for Applications (RFA) to support the analysis or validation of large datasets and/or development of technologies to advance improvements in early detection and diagnosis of melanoma across different skin types and identify predictive and prognostic biomarkers at different stages of the disease. This RFA represents the second of three Priority Area Announcements that will be released throughout 2024 as part of MRA's Next Steps Program, a separate and distinct grant mechanism from the MRA’s annual RFP call for applications.

MRA’s Next Steps program intends to help advance translation of discoveries into the clinic by supporting: 1) needed preclinical resources and tools for the research community to identify and begin to develop new therapies and 2) infrastructural support to analyze and build large datasets and/or develop associated technologies for better detection, diagnosis, treatment, and management of melanoma.

RFA Background:

There is a critical need to identify biomarkers and/or develop technologies to: 1) more accurately detect all sub-types of melanoma earlier in disease onset and across different skin types; 2) assist in risk stratification to determine which patients are more likely to progress on treatment or need additional types of treatment (ie: adjuvant therapy) which will aid in the management of disease; and 3) identify predictive markers that better match patients to particular therapies thereby offering more precision-based medicine approaches.

To assist in the identification and validation of biomarkers and development of associated technologies, robust and well annotated datasets are essential. Therefore, resources are generally needed to clinically annotate biospecimens and/or images, harmonize datasets across multiple institutions, as well as retrieve additional datasets that will provide useful and more comprehensive information. Generally, funding for this type of infrastructural support is not included in many types of grant mechanisms. In addition, small pilot studies (demonstration studies) may need to be performed to determine that a particular approach or technology for biomarker identification/validation is feasible. The goal of this Next Step RFA is to provide seed funding to support early research efforts to ultimately identify and/or validate diagnostic, prognostic, or predictive biomarkers or technologies for melanoma detection, treatment, and management of disease.

RFA Deadline: Two Step Process

Step 1: Letter of Intent

A one-page letter of intent is due no later than 07/31/2024 by 11:59 PM EST. This LOI is used for administrative purposes and will not be peer reviewed. MRA will notify you if there are any administrative concerns.

Step 2: Full applications

Full application is due on 09/05/2024 by 11:59 PM EST. We WILL NOT accept any late applications past this deadline so please make sure you allow yourself enough time to receive the required institutional review and approvals for submission. More detailed instructions on how to submit the LOI and full application are listed in the RFA.

Award Duration:

1-2 years

Funding Level and Additional Support:

Up to $150,000 depending on the scope of the research project.

How to Apply:

Additional information is available in the program RFA—including details about eligibility, funding priorities, and instructions for LOI and full application submission. 


MRA accepts proposals from researchers worldwide and encourages applications from a diverse pool of investigators with respect to race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, country of residence, and disability. MRA recognizes that diversity in the biomedical research workforce is critical for ensuring that the most creative minds have the opportunity to contribute to realizing our research goals and to ensuring more equitable health outcomes for all.

If there are any questions about the application process or eligibility, please contact Joan Levy PhD, Chief Science Officer, at before submitting the LOI and/or full application.