Research Overview

Since its founding in 2007, the Melanoma Research Alliance has committed $101 million to fund melanoma research. With an additional $101 million leveraged from additional sources, MRA has catalyzed strategic, collaborative, and accountable research efforts, moving the field toward effective treatment options for all melanoma patients as quickly as possible. 

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.

Recent landmark advances in melanoma treatment have provided new options for patients, and melanoma stands as the case study for state-of-the-art cancer drug development, precision medicine and immunotherapy. 

Request for Proposals

MRA research funding is awarded through a competitive, peer reviewed process. Each summer, MRA announces its Request For Proposals (RFP), soliciting translational research grant applications from scientists and clinicians around the world. In the latest round, MRA awarded more than $101 million in total funding. 

Read the RFP 

Strategic Research Plan

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 is guiding the MRA scientific portfolio for the coming three years.

Accelerating Progress

Beginning in 2011, the FDA approved new melanoma treatments for the first time in several decades. As of today, the FDA has approved a total of 12 new therapies for melanoma, underscoring the remarkable progress that has been made in a very short time period.

With the significant infusion of research funds into the field provided by MRA, melanoma is leading the field of oncology in the development of targeted treatments and new immunotherapies for cancer patients. The data that MRA-funded scientists are generating is informing research in many fields, including those studying colon, breast, brain, pancreatic, kidney, prostate, bladder, leukemia, lymphoma, and lung cancer.

Yet, these therapies will not be the cure for most patients, so continuing to support melanoma research is critical.

In just a few years, tangible outcomes and promising early research results are advancing the understanding of melanoma and developing new therapies for patients with advanced disease.

MRA research awards have included studies of 96 unique therapeutic approaches, including the melanoma therapeutics approved since 2011 (vemurafenib, dabrafenib, trametinib, ipilimumab, nivolumab, pembrolizumab, interferon, and Talimogene Iaherparepvec).

  • 37 clinical trials supported by MRA to test promising agents alone and in combinations for the treatment of metastatic melanoma.
  • $101 million in additional research funding has been leveraged from other sources by MRA investigators, including the U.S. National Institutes of Health, industry, and other foundations.
  • Hundreds of papers have been 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.


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 20 research projects with premier cancer research foundations including the Society for Immunotherapy Research, the Melanoma Research Foundation, and Stand up to Cancer. 
  • MRA selected 16 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 Aduro BioTech, Altor BioScience, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Canfield Scientific Inc, Celled Therapeutics, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Plexxikon, MedImmune, Merck, Roche, Vanquish Oncology and Immunocore, Ltd.
  • MRA is co-funding 34 awards through the Collaborative Funding Program, leveraging almost $7.9 million in matched funding from a total of 34 institutions. 


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. 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. 

MRA is a CCSG Recognized Funder:

The Melanoma Research Alliance is recognized by the NIH as meeting approved standards for peer review. Thus, multi-year research programs, excluding pilot projects, funded by MRA are eligible for consideration as part of the research program via the National Institutes of Health P30 Cancer Center Support Grants (CCSG). To qualify for this, MRA has met the specific minimum levels of “peer reviewed, funded research projects.” Please click here for more information.