History & Mission

History & Mission

The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) was founded in 1996 by Diana Ashby, a melanoma patient.

The History & Mission of the MRF

Mission Statement

To support medical RESEARCH for finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma. To EDUCATE patients and physicians about the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of melanoma. To act as an ADVOCATE for the melanoma community to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure.

The MRF History

The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) was founded in 1996 by Diana Ashby, a melanoma patient. Diana created the MRF after three years of battling the deadly cancer, during which time she grew increasingly frustrated with the lack of effective medical treatments for melanoma. Diana was known for having an especially strong sense of compassion for fellow melanoma patients.

Diana’s frustration turned to determination after the tragic loss of several friends to melanoma and the third recurrence of her own tumors that summer. She began to investigate alternative therapies and trials for promising new drugs and discovered that the research and development of such new treatments were often stalled due to inadequate funding. The founding of the MRF was the result of Diana’s struggle and will to make a difference.

Diana died only eight months after founding the MRF, but today the organization continues to grow. We are thankful for the energy of melanoma patients, families and volunteers who contribute their time and efforts to speed the cure for this deadly cancer, in the legacy of Diana’s initial vision.

In accordance with Diana’s vision…by funding basic cancer research…we can make a difference in the lives of others. Her remarkable enthusiasm, hopeful vision and unique compassion for others lives on in the organization she founded to help find the cure for malignant melanoma. She worked night and day…finally stopping only when the cancer had taken her eyesight and her voice.
– Captain Jeff Ashby, NASA Shuttle Pilot and Diana’s husband

Key Historical Dates:

  • 1996 – The MRF was founded by Diana Ashby
  • 1998 – The MRF funded its first research grants
  • 2010 – The MRF launched the Melanoma Research Foundation Breakthrough Consortium (MRFBC)
  • 2011 – The MRF launched a major ocular melanoma initiative, CURE OM
  • 2015 – The MRF created programs focusing on pediatric and mucosal melanoma

Read more about the MRF’s scientific milestones. For more information about the MRF, visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).