Fueling a Revolution

Driving
Research Forward

2019-2020
Annual Report

Our Mission

The mission of the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) is to end suffering and death due to melanoma by collaborating with all stakeholders to accelerate powerful research, advance cures for all patients, and prevent more melanomas.

Founded in 2007 with the generous support of Debra and Leon Black, MRA is the largest nonprofit funder of melanoma research. To date, MRA has awarded $123 million to 339 research programs. Thanks to the generous support of our founders, 100% of all donations to MRA go directly to research.

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Letter from the Chair and CEO

At the Melanoma Research Alliance, advancing transformational science is core to who we are. Since MRA’s founding in 2007, we have committed more than $123 million to melanoma research – more than any other non-profit worldwide. By funding groundbreaking research, fostering collaboration, and putting patients at the center of everything we do we are fueling a revolution that will one-day end melanoma as we know it.

And the revolution is already underway. This decade alone 13 new treatment options have earned FDA approval, including the FDA’s first approval of an innovative ‘triplet’ that combines the power of PD-L1 checkpoint therapy with BRAF/MEK inhibition. This is just the latest example of the melanoma research community leading the way for all of oncology.

But it isn’t all good news. Together, we face unprecedented times with the global COVID-19 pandemic upending our very way of life. With a staggering death count, thousands of new cases, economic fissures that are just starting to emerge, and no clear end in sight – it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.

In our community alone, 2020 has seen patient care delayed or canceled altogether, clinics ordered closed, clinical trials slowed, and access to labs restricted. While the work slowed, it hasn’t stopped, and we are all learning how to navigate our new reality.

We won’t be daunted. The same spirit of determined innovation that has transformed melanoma treatment will help researchers create new treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 that will lead us into the future.

Throughout the pandemic, we are learning critical lessons that make us faster, stronger, and even more pioneering in our approach to achieving our mission.

This report features some of our key achievements from the past year and several examples of how MRA works every day to fuel the melanoma research revolution.

We remain deeply grateful to many donors, organizations, government officials, and corporations who have joined us in our shared mission to eradicate melanoma.

Our work would not be possible without you.

Debra Black
Chair and Co-founder

Michael Kaplan
President and CEO

MRA Responds to COVID-19

COVID-19 has presented unprecedented challenges to melanoma patients, researchers, and clinicians. To address these impacts, MRA has:

  • Transitioned all staff, grant reviews, and scientific meetings to virtual only through mid of 2021.
  • Held a listening session for FDA with patients and researchers about the impact of COVID-19 on melanoma patient care and ongoing research.
  • Surveyed melanoma researchers and conducted virtual site visits to assess impact of COVID-19 and to explore ways in which MRA can better support the field.
  • Supported funded investigators by granting no-cost extensions, budget carryovers, and extending reporting deadlines.
  • Issued $11 million in new grants during close-downs so that researchers have the support they need to hit the ground running.