In recognition of the critical role dermatologists can play in the prevention and early detection of melanoma, the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), the largest non-profit funder of melanoma research, announced the inaugural cohort of nine dermatology research fellows.
The fellows, which include MDs, PhDs and MD/PhDs, will each receive a $35,000 grant as part of a pilot program at seven institutions for year one. MRA plans to expand the program in the future. The grants will support innovative research and demonstration projects to advance melanoma prevention, detection, staging, and early interventional treatments. By investing in early career dermatologists, the program also aims to build a pipeline of promising scientists who specialize in melanoma.
“In line with its mission to end suffering and death due to melanoma, MRA is placing new emphasis on the importance of prevention and early detection," said MRA Board member and melanoma survivor Denise Kellen. "The new Dermatology Fellows Program will provide critical support for young scientists and dermatologists to explore new avenues of investigation, providing financial backing not generally available at this point in their careers.”
Since its founding in 2007, MRA has directly invested more than $110 million in research. Research supported by MRA has helped usher in a new era in melanoma treatment with 12 new FDA approved options this decade. The Dermatology Fellows Program is part of a broader effort by MRA to leverage the success seen in melanoma treatment to include prevention and early detection of the disease.
“We’ve helped make impressive progress in advancing treatments for melanoma, but until now, less focus has been placed on prevention and detection,” said MRA President & CEO Michael Kaplan. “We have a real opportunity here to change the status quo – preventing more melanomas and in detecting the disease at a much earlier stage, making it much easier to treat.”
This push into prevention and early detection is timely due to the increasing rates of new melanomas. This year in the United States alone, more than 96,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma and over 7,000 people will succumb to the disease. While new treatments have helped reduce deaths due to melanoma, the rate of new melanomas being diagnosed in the United States continue to climb.
“MRA has been a catalyzing force in melanoma research over the last decade, and has spurred dramatic results for patients,” says MRA Chief Science Officer, Marc Hurlbert, PhD. “Now, we look forward to deepening our partnerships with dermatologists and other stakeholders to do the same for early detection and prevention.”