Research & Science


Accelerating medical RESEARCH while EDUCATING to and ADVOCATING for the melanoma community.

Due to the remarkable development of both targeted therapy and immunotherapy, the national melanoma death rates have decreased in both men and women by ~6%; however, the incidence rate in both men and women has increased by ~2%1. Although we have achieved a number of important scientific milestones, much more work remains to be done in cutaneous melanoma as well as ocular and other rare melanoma subtypes. For more information on our broad scientific portfolio, download the MRF Research Portfolio.

Visit the Why Research Matters blog to hear the important perspectives of patients and researchers.

1: National Cancer Institute (NCI) SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) Program

Upcoming RFPs

2023 Research Grants

Multiple grant opportunities are currently accepting applications for 2023 research funding, with deadlines beginning in March. Visit the Grants RFP page to learn more and apply.



Find a Clinical Trial

How do I find a Melanoma Clinical Trial? 

There are many ways you can learn about available clinical trials, which hospitals are participating in clinical trials, and how to enroll.  The two easiest ways are through the use of the MRF’s Clinical Trial Finder or through ClinicalTrials.gov.



Upcoming Meetings

Next Melanoma Meeting: Society for Melanoma Research (SMR) International Congress on November 6-9, 2023.

In addition to the melanoma meetings that the MRF sponsors, the MRF also hosts events in conjunction with the larger oncology meetings listed below.

  • AACR (American Association for Cancer Research): April 14-19, 2023
  • ASCO (American Association of Clinical Oncology): June 2-6, 2023
  • SMR (Society for Melanoma Research): November 6-9, 2023
  • SITC (Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer): November 1-5, 2023



Learn More about the MRF’s Diverse Scientific Agenda Below

MRF Research Portfolio

Learn more about our commitment to melanoma science by reading the MRF Research Portfolio.

Research Grants

Established in 1998, the MRF research grants are a competitive, peer-reviewed program for investigator-initiated research conducted under the purview of our Scientific Advisory Committee. MRF-supported research is open to medical students through senior investigative teams and encompass not only cutaneous melanoma, but also the rare melanoma types such as uveal, mucosal and pediatric melanoma.

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Scientific Initiatives

Responding to needs in the field, the MRF has spearheaded several scientific initiatives to accelerate research and treatments focused on the most common malignant tumor of the eye and initiatives that focus on rare melanoma subsets such as pediatric and mucosal, and the conduct of various scientific meetings.


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Participate in Science

If you are looking for a way to get involved in melanoma research, you can participate in any number of ways – through a clinical trial, as a research advocate, in the grant review process, and/or through fundraising. Consider getting involved today!


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Scientific Leadership

The MRF’s Scientific Leadership is comprised of multidisciplinary experts in basic and translational research, dermatology, epidemiology, genomics, pathology, surgery and medical oncology.  Members of all our advisory/ steering committees are volunteers that assist in providing the scientific direction of the MRF.


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Why Research Matters

From discovery in the laboratory to clinical trials, science can make a difference in the lives of people touched by melanoma. Click below to meet a patient and researcher directly involved in melanoma science and read their stories.


Pediatric Melanoma Awareness

Scientific Milestones of the MRF

Over the years, the Melanoma Research Foundation has achieved a number of important milestones in its drive to uncover new treatments for melanoma, gain traction for broader public awareness, and to build a thriving community of melanoma survivors and advocates. Below is a brief timeline highlighting key dates:

  • 1996

    The MRF is founded by Diana Ashby, a stage IV melanoma patient, as a call to action for melanoma research.

  • 1998

    • The MRF launches its annual research grant funding program.
    • FDA approves IL-2 as the first immunotherapy for metastatic melanoma.
  • 2003

    The MRF partners with the Society for Melanoma Research to host annual meetings dedicated solely to melanoma research.

  • 2007

    National Cancer Institute convenes a meeting with the MRF and the Society for Melanoma Research to develop a national, multisector “Strategic Action Plan for Melanoma Research”.

  • 2009

    Department of Defense invites the MRF to serve on its review panel for their Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program which now includes $4 million for melanoma specific research.

  • 2010

    • MRF answers a call from researchers to form a national consortium of melanoma experts, launching the MRF Breakthrough Consortium.
    • MRF continues to advocate to Congress for expanded NCI and CDC research funding.
  • 2011

    • The MRF launches CURE OM to increase awareness and advance research for ocular melanoma.
    • FDA approves ipilimumab as the 1st anti-CTLA-4 checkpoint inhibitor for metastatic melanoma.
    • FDA approves vemurafenib as the first targeted therapy for BRAF V600 mutant metastatic melanoma.
  • 2012

    CURE OM, the Society for Melanoma Research and National Institutes of Health partner to launch the first ocular melanoma symposium in conjunction with the cutaneous SMR meeting. This becomes an annual symposium.

  • 2013

    • CURE OM launches an international tumor collection to provide NIH’s initiative, The Cancer Genome Atlas, the specimens needed to sequence primary ocular melanoma as one of its rare tumor initiatives.
    • FDA approves dabrafenib as the 2nd BRAF mutant inhibitor therapy in metastatic melanoma
    • FDA approves trametinib as the 1st MEK inhibitor therapy for BRAF mutant metastatic melanoma
  • 2014

    • FDA approves pembrolizumab as the 1st PD-1 checkpoint inhibitor for metastatic melanoma
    • FDA approves dabrafenib plus trametinib, the 1st combination of targeted therapies, for BRAF mutant melanoma
  • 2015

    • The MRF launches an annual partnership with the National Cancer Institutes’ SPORE program to develop a research strategy for melanoma brain metastases.
    • The MRF creates a Pediatric Melanoma Steering Committee, expanding focus on rare melanoma subtypes.
    • FDA approves ipilimumab as the first checkpoint inhibitor for adjuvant therapy for melanoma.
    • FDA approves nivolumab as the 2nd PD-1 inhibitor for metastatic melanoma.
    • FDA approves ipilimumab plus nivolumab as the 1st combination checkpoint regimen for metastatic melanoma.
    • The MRF’s Breakthrough Consortium develops a virtual biospecimen bank for a national BRAF mutant melanoma trial. 800+ specimens distributed to 3 research projects in the private and public sector.
  • 2016

    • The MRF publishes a consensus document from a national meeting of experts on accelerating the spectrum of research in melanoma.
    • FDA approves Imlygic, the 1st oncolytic viral therapy for intralesional injection.
  • 2017

    • FDA approves nivolumab as the 1st PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor therapy for the adjuvant therapy of resected melanoma.
    • The MRF’s Breakthrough Consortium provides its virtual biospecimen bank for an ongoing national mucosal melanoma trial.
  • 2018

    • The MRF advocates for increased Department of Defense melanoma research funding, which is increased to $10M.
    • FDA approves dabrafenib and trametinib as the 1st combination targeted therapy for adjuvant therapy of BRAF mutant melanoma.
    • FDA approves 3rd combination targeted therapy, encorafenib plus binimetinib, for metastatic melanoma.
  • 2019

    • The MRF launches a program to include patients and caregivers with researchers into grant review panels.
    • The MRF launches its Mucosal Melanoma Steering Committee to increase the focus on this rare melanoma subtype.
    • The MRF advocates for increased Department of Defense melanoma research funding, which is doubled to $20M.
    • FDA approves pembrolizumab as 2nd PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor for the adjuvant treatment of resected melanoma.
  • 2020

    • FDA approves 1st combination of checkpoint plus targeted therapy inhibitor regimen (atezolizumab plus vemurafenib plus cobimetinib) for BRAF mutant metastatic melanoma.
    • FDA approves Guidance “Cancer Clinical Trial Eligibility Criteria: Brain Metastases” following 2019 workshop with MRF, other advocates and the National Brain Tumor Society draft recommendations.
  • 2021

    • The MRF advocates for increased Department of Defense melanoma research funding, resulting in a $30M allocation.
    • CURE OM VISION Registry prepares to launch in early 2021.