Pilot Awards

MRA Pilot Awards test potentially transformative ideas that do not have extensive preliminary data but articulate a clear hypothesis and translational goals. Resources for such “high-risk, high-reward” projects are important to establish proof-of-concept, which may then leverage additional funding through more traditional avenues.

Sensitizing Melanoma to Immunotherapy with Novel DNA Hypermethylating Drugs

Investigates the possibility of using an inhibitor of the molecule TDG to make non- responsive melanomas respond to immunotherapy.

MRA Pilot Award

Alfonso Bellacosa, MD, PhD, The Research Institute of Fox Chase Cancer Center

Histone Variant Regulation of The Melanoma Microenvironment

Characterizing how loss of the histone molecule, macroH2A, in melanoma cells renders them invisible to immune cell killing, and how macroH2A contributes to the proper training of immune cells to mount an effective response against tumor cells.

Hess Foundation – MRA Pilot Award

Emily Bernstein, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Targeting Immune Inhibitory Gene Transcription to Reverse T Cell Exhaustion

Investigating the potential of the molecule VISTA, a potent inhibitor of T cells, as a novel therapeutic target to promote patient responses to melanoma.

MRA Pilot Award

Linda Bradley, PhD, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Tandem Cytokine Delivery with Non-Replicating Herpes Viral Vectors

Aims to make a virus that produces IL-12 and blocks negative feedback mechanisms in melanoma cells, to allow for regression of local lesions and clearance of lesions throughout the body.

MRA Pilot Award

Stephanie Dougan, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Uncovering Nodes of Convergence of Targeted and Immune
Therapy in Melanoma

Identify signaling nodes in which targeted and immune therapy approaches converge to both maximally suppress oncogenic signaling in the tumor and enhance anti-tumor immune response.

Hess Foundation – MRA Pilot Award

Poulikos Poulikakos, PhD, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai