As we near the end of summer, we hope you take to heart the many messages of skin cancer prevention and remember to stay sun safe all year round. MRA has been working to raise awareness of the dangers of melanoma, promote sun safe behaviors, and fund innovative melanoma research. This month, we are pleased to share the incredible progress on all fronts in our mission to reduce the deadly toll of melanoma.
At MRA, we continue to accelerate progress for melanoma prevention, detection, and treatment through innovative collaborations across sectors. We’re especially thrilled to be partnering with the LUNGevity Foundation and the Lung Cancer Research Foundation in a unique collaboration to co-fund research to further the body of knowledge of brain metastases in both lung cancer and melanoma. Building on the historic slate of grants we announced in May, we are also preparing for our next grant cycle, which launches this August with a Request for Proposals (RFP).
Exciting policy news made national headlines last week as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer, a report calling for a national health agenda to address the dangers of skin cancer and melanoma. This report resulted from a meeting over two years ago when MRA joined forces with Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Howard Koh and launched a 22-month long collaboration that brought together U.S. health agencies in a joint mission to reduce the deadly toll of skin cancer and melanoma. MRA was honored to be recognized by Dr. Koh as one of the leading “partners in prevention” for this milestone. In addition to this historic call to action, the House of Representatives passed the Sunscreen Innovation Act with overwhelming bipartisan support, sending the bill on to the Senate for consideration.
We’ve continued to build upon the momentum from Melanoma Awareness Month and have broadened our reach and impact through collaborative partnerships with American Idol, J.Crew, and Health Guru Media to raise awareness and fund our melanoma research program. Through traditional media and social media campaigns, we are leading the charge in melanoma prevention and directing critical resources to the field of melanoma research. We’re also pleased to share our brand new brochure which highlights the unique ways in which we maximize our impact to speed cures for patients.
With so much progress at hand, there are many reasons to be hopeful. From Expanded Access Programs for advanced melanoma patients to a national public health agenda to fight skin cancer, these exciting developments fuel our mission and reaffirm our belief that a cure for melanoma is near. Thank you again for all your continuing support for our work and we hope you’ll join us in looking forward to new opportunities to advance our mission to end all suffering and death from melanoma.
Wendy K.D. Selig
President and CEO
MRA Joins Forces with LUNGevity and LCRF in Unique Research Collaboration
MRA has partnered with the LUNGevity Foundation and the Lung Cancer Research Foundation to co-fund new innovative research on PD-1 inhibitor treatment options for both non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and metastatic melanoma (MM) patients with brain metastases. The award recipient is Lucia Jilaveanu, M.D., Ph.D., Yale University, for her project Response to PD-1 Inhibitors in Melanoma and Lung Cancer Patients with Brain Metastases. This unique research collaboration between lung cancer and melanoma funders reflects the shared urgency on this area of research. Individuals with NSCLC have the highest incidence of brain metastases among all cancers, and melanoma has the highest likelihood to metastasize to the brain once the disease has spread. You can read a recent press release here.
MRA Hails Expanded Access Program for Advanced Melanoma
As options for late-stage melanoma patients continue to evolve, MRA hailed the launch of an Expanded Access Program (EAP) that allows late-stage melanoma patients to receive nivolumab (Opdivo), Bristol-Myers Squibb’s investigational anti-PD1 immunotherapy in combination with ipilimumab (Yervoy), an approved immunotherapy. MRA has been actively working to encourage access to these therapies in late-stage development for more melanoma patients, and we are pleased this opportunity for patients has emerged. Allowing expanded access to a potentially effective combination therapy could make a difference in the lives of patients and their families. More information on this combination therapy EAP can be found at clinicaltrials.gov.
Atlantic Article on Immunotherapy Features MRA-Supported Investigator
The breakthrough status of immunotherapy continues to make headlines, this time garnering the spotlight in The Atlantic. The article “Can Doctors Teach the Body to Cure Cancer?” features the work of melanoma expert and MRA-supported investigator, Dr. Jedd Wolchok of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. You can read the article here.
EVENTS AND ALLIANCES
Stand Up To Cancer Returns in September
MRA is pleased to once again partner with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) as a major donor and collaborator. The historic fundraising telecast returns to primetime television on Friday, September 5, 2014, and will provide a national platform to garner support for innovative research like the SU2C-MRA Melanoma Dream Team. Led by Dr. Jeffrey Trent of Translational Genomics Research Center and Dr. Patricia LoRusso of the Yale Cancer Center, the Melanoma Dream Team investigates the application of targeted therapy identification in patients with BRAF wild type (BRAFwt) melanoma. MRA is also pleased to be funding a critical component of the Immunology Dream Team focused on melanoma patients treated by single agents and in combination, led by Drs. James Allison of MD Anderson Cancer Center and Drew Pardoll of Johns Hopkins.
The American Idol®Live! Tour Continues
MRA leadership enjoyed the star treatment on July 6 when the American Idol® Live! Tour hit Vienna, VA. As the Tour’s charitable partner, MRA is receiving $1 for every ticket purchased to fund our research program and aid efforts to cure melanoma. The Tour kicked off June 24 and is hitting 40 different cities across the U.S. through August 23. Tickets can be purchased at www.AmericanIdol.com/tour.
Brentwood Grand Prix Races for Melanoma Research
On August 3, Velo Club La Grange, Southern California’s largest cycling club, hosted the Brentwood Grand Prix where cycling enthusiasts raced to benefit MRA and our melanoma research program. The event offered free skin cancer screenings and offered sun safety tips for the entire crowd.
J.Crew SmartSun Campaign
Throughout the month of July, J.Crew partnered with MRA to raise funds for melanoma research and promote sun safety through the #JCrewSmartSun campaign. J.Crew donated $1 to MRA for each photo that was shared on Instagram incorporating sun safety and tagged with #JCrewSmartSun. Check out the creative photos of everyone—from Southern California to Istanbul—as they stayed smart in the sun.
The Big Orange Foundation Supports Melanoma Research
MRA is pleased to be working with The Wayne Stinchcomb Big Orange Foundation, which has provided funding to MRA in support of our research program. As always, 100% of all donations to MRA directly fund melanoma research.
OUTREACH AND VISIBILITY
New Videos in Collaboration with Health Guru Media
In partnership with Health Guru Media, MRA debuted two new videos featuring Dr. Jedd Wolchok speaking on the advances in immunotherapy, future FDA approval, and the potential impact for patients. Both videos are available via our YouTube channel and Health Guru’s website, a platform for health videos that has garnered over 1 billion views since 2006.
MRA Releases New Brochure
The new MRA Brochure: Powerful Research. Faster Results. features the ways in which we are working toward a cure through cutting-edge research, collaboration with all stakeholders to amplify our reach, and policy change to leverage progress for the entire field of melanoma. The brochure, designed by Phil & Co., was cited for creative excellence in the 29th annual American Graphic Design & Advertising (AGDA) Awards, chosen from among tens of thousands of entries.
CSO Louise Perkins Featured in Radio Broadcast on Melanoma
MRA CSO Louise Perkins, Ph.D., participated in the radio broadcast program, “What You Need To Know About Melanoma,” hosted by Linda House and produced by the Cancer Support Community. April K.S. Salama, MD, of Duke University, and Donna Piunt, melanoma survivor and blogger at The Cancer Spot, also joined the broadcast to discuss the melanoma experience, from prevention through survivorship.
Surgeon General Sounds Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer
The U.S. Surgeon General has released the first-ever report on prevention of skin cancer and melanoma. MRA leadership provided the catalyst for this milestone event nearly two years ago in asking Assistant Secretary of Health Dr. Howard Koh and Acting US Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak to address the mounting public health crises of melanoma and skin cancer. With MRA continuing to drive the process over the last 22 months, the Call to Action lays out key areas of focus, including an emphasis on tanning beds, sunscreens and filling research gaps. Read MRA’s press release here.
House of Representatives Passes Sunscreen Innovation Act
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the Sunscreen Innovation Act, sponsored by Representatives Ed Whitfield and John Dingell. You can read MRA’s full statement here. We expect the Senate to follow suit with its bill (led by Senators Jack Reed and Johnny Isakson) in September, implementing an important statutory change that will break the current logjam of FDA review and approval of innovative sunscreen agents to help prevent melanoma and all skin cancer. MRA has been a leading member of the Public Access to Sunscreens coalition (PASS Coalition), along with other foundations, dermatologists and companies like L’Oreal and BASF. Wendy Selig was featured in a TV segment broadcast by Al Jazeera America on skin cancer and quoted in the Wall Street Journal on the need to provide the public with access to better sunscreens and the public health imperative for the passage of this bill.
Unprecedented Increase in DoD Funding for Melanoma Research
MRA has been a leading force behind the scenes in securing an unprecedented increase from the U.S. Senate Department of Defense (DoD) Subcommittee in the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP) for 12 cancers as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 DoD Appropriations Bill. The Senate Committee, led by Senator Dick Durbin, has provided $50 million for this fund, doubling what was allocated in the previous year. You can read MRA’s full statement here.
Immunotherapy Briefing on Capitol Hill
MRA President and CEO Wendy Selig spoke on behalf of MRA at a standing-room only briefing on Capitol Hill about the revolutionary progress for cancer coming from the area of immunotherapy research. She was joined on the panel for this session, sponsored by BIO and the National Coalition for Cancer Research, by Dr. Michael Atkins (MRA-funded clinician and researcher at Georgetown-Lombardi Cancer Center), Alise Reicin of Merck, Ed Cha of Genentech, and Monica Smith of the Bladder Cancer Action Network.
MELANOMA RESEARCH ALLIANCE FOUNDATION (Melanoma Research Alliance; MRA) is a GuideStar Exchange Gold Participant Want to learn more about the GuideStar Exchange?
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