News & Press
Rare Cancer Community Unites to Drive Research for a Cure Forward
Through the Melanoma Research Foundation’s #CUREOM Unite! Campaign,
Ocular Melanoma Patients Help Fund and Review Research Grant
Washington, DC – The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is pleased to announce more than $165,000 was raised to advance critically important research focused on a rare form of melanoma, called ocular or uveal melanoma, through its #CUREOM Unite! campaign. The campaign, a unique approach aimed at uniting the ocular melanoma (OM) patient and research communities across the nation, exceeded its original goal of $50,000 thanks to the passion and efforts of the people personally impacted by the rare cancer.
The #CUREOM Unite! campaign was spearheaded by the MRF’s CURE Ocular Melanoma (CURE OM) initiative, which was founded in 2011 to increase OM awareness, research funding and patient and caregiver education and support. But it was the commitment and dedication of people around the United States who have battled with this disease that made the Unite! campaign a success. People personally impacted by this rare cancer, ranging in age from six to 75-years-old raised money for the #CUREOM Unite! research grant by participating in 5k run/walks and softball tournaments, organizing lemonade stands, selling OM awareness magnets, activating their networks on social media and donating directly.
Although rare, OM is the most common eye tumor in adults and the second most common type of melanoma, with approximately 2,000 people diagnosed in the United States each year. The MRF’s CURE OM initiative has funded over $1 million in OM-specific grants to date, but much more work needs to be done to better understand the disease and save lives.
“There is so much more we need to know about ocular melanoma, like why it often travels to the liver, becoming metastatic ocular melanoma, and how we can prevent it from doing so,” said Sara Selig, MD, MPH, co-founder and director of the MRF’s CURE OM initiative. “Our goal for the #CUREOM Unite! campaign was to unite with the OM patient and research communities to fund a research grant focused on finding answers to questions like these. We are thrilled to take this new approach and involve OM patients in the research grant review process for the first time ever!”
The MRF will invite OM-specific grant proposals from researchers around the globe through its 2016 Request for Proposals (RFP) process. The #CUREOM Unite! grant review process will include members of the OM patient community, marking a change in the typical medical research grant process.
The campaign fundraising goal was more than doubled thanks to passionate OM advocates Mark and Alison Weinzierl. After Mark’s OM diagnosis in 2007, Mark and Alison became avid advocates for OM awareness and research, and supporters of the work done by the MRF’s CURE OM initiative.
“We love the idea of the ocular melanoma community being involved in the research review process, especially for a grant they helped fund,” said Mark Weinzierl. “Alison and I are personally invested in this project and we’re pleased to add to the generosity and hard work of others fighting this cancer.”
“The passion and commitment in the OM community to drive research forward is unparalleled,” continued Selig. “The hard work of the OM community and the addition of the Weinzierl’s support increased the #CUREOM Unite! grant funding amount to the next level of grant support!”
To learn more about ocular melanoma, the CURE OM initiative or to donate in support of the initiative’s work to find a cure, visit www.cureom.org.
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About Ocular Melanoma
Ocular melanoma (OM), or uveal melanoma, develops in the eye and is the most common eye cancer in adults and the second most common type of melanoma. About 2,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year. In about half of all OM cases, the disease will spread to other parts of the body. When this occurs, it is almost always fatal. Visit www.cureom.org to learn more about the Melanoma Research Foundation’s OM initiative, CURE OM (Community United for Research and Education of Ocular Melanoma), which was established in 2011 to increase awareness, education, treatment and research funding of OM.
About the Melanoma Research Foundation
The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the largest independent organization devoted to melanoma. Committed to the support of medical research in finding effective treatments and eventually a cure for melanoma, the MRF also educates patients and physicians about prevention, diagnosis and the treatment of melanoma. The MRF is an active advocate for the melanoma community, helping to raise awareness of this disease and the need for a cure. The MRF’s website is the premier source for melanoma information seekers. More information is available at www.melanoma.org. Find the MRF on Facebook and Twitter.
Lauren Smith Dyer