News & Press

The MRF Works with Congress to Secure $10 Million Increase in Department of Defense Research Program

Melanoma along with 11 other cancers are eligible to compete for $25 million in program funding.

Melanoma and 11 Other Cancer Research Topics Eligible to Compete for Funding

WASHINGTON, D.C.— In 2009, the Department of Defense began funding melanoma and nine other cancer areas through the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP). The program, patterned after the larger and better known Breast Cancer Research Program, challenges the scientific community to accelerate high impact research into treatments for rare cancers.
Since the program’s inception, the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) has had representation on the panel of advocates, researchers and experts from the DOD, Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health who design Program Announcements to solicit grant applications. This committee also selects an external panel of scientific experts to review the scientific merits of these grant applications. 
In Fiscal 2009, the first year of the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program, $4 million of a total of $15 million was targeted for melanoma research. In subsequent years, while the total for the PRCRP has been reasonably stable at $15 million, melanoma’s share has varied between $1.5 and $3 million. While funding levels have varied year to year; between 2009 until 2013 melanoma received a total of $10 million.
For Fiscal 2014, the melanoma community made a concerted push for increased DOD funding, arguing that having hundreds of thousands of troops deployed in the Middle East, where sun exposure is high, raises serious concerns that the soldiers of today may suffer from melanoma in the near future. The MRF worked with some of its longtime champions in the House of Representatives on this issue. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY); Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) led the push for $10 million in targeted funding for melanoma research in the Fiscal 2014 Defense Appropriations Bill. Additionally, Representatives Chaka Fattah (D-PA); Charles Rangel (D-NY); Frederica Wilson (D-FL); Denny Heck (D-WA) and Adam Schiff (D-CA) joined in writing the House Appropriations Committee in support of this increased funding. 
The MRF also joined with the Melanoma Research Alliance to mount a broader lobbying campaign on Capitol Hill, focused on motivating the Senate to advance the cause of increased DOD funding for melanoma research. Meetings with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV); Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chair and Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL); Defense Appropriations Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS); full Appropriations Ranking member Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Defense Subcommittee members Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Jack Reed (D-RI) yielded results. While the full $10 million specifically for melanoma research wasn’t received, last year’s level of $15 million for the overall PRCRP program in the House was preserved and melanoma along with seven other cancers could compete for funding. And, for the first time ever, the Senate’s version of the 2014 Defense Appropriations Bill upped the House’s recommended level of $15 million for the PRCRP by an additional $10 million.   
Once negotiations between the House and Senate on the final version of the Fiscal 2014 Defense Appropriations were completed, the final 2014 figure for the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program was $25 million, and melanoma along with 11 other cancer research topics are eligible to compete for program funding. 
This tremendous win is a direct result of the efforts of the entire melanoma community. None of this could be possible without the help of dedicated advocates. The Defense Department will likely issue a request for research proposals under the 2014 PRCRP this spring, and it’s now up to the scientific community to submit the most innovative research proposals to ensure that melanoma gets its share of the $25 million available under the PRCRP. 
Contact: Lauren Smith
                (202) 347-9675
                [email protected] 

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About Melanoma
Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the United States and can strike men and women of all ages, all races and skin types. With a one in 50 lifetime risk of developing melanoma, nearly 77,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2014, resulting in almost 10,000 deaths. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25- to 29-years-old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15- to 29-years-old. 
The majority of melanomas occur on the skin; in fact, melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. Melanoma can also occur in the eye (ocular, or uveal melanoma), in mucous membranes (mucosal melanoma), or even beneath fingernails or toenails. 
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.