Committed to Melanoma Research

The Melanoma Research Foundation is committed to advancing a broad scientific agenda across the disciplines of prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The MRF proudly partners with advocates, scientists, professional societies, the National Cancer Institute, the Department of Defense, the Food and Drug Administration, Congress, other nonprofits and industry to create an environment that stimulates the best research and accelerates its translation into options for patients and their families. These critical partnerships aim to improve the quality and length of life for melanoma patients.

What is a Research Grant?

A research grant is a financial, non-repayable award provided to an investigator to pay for scientific research. Grants can cover any area of research- including basic, preclinical, clinical, and/or translational.  A description of the different areas of research are noted below:

  • Basic Research: according to the National Science Foundation (NSF), a basic researcher is “motivated by a driving curiosity about the unknown.”  Although this work may be relevant to the study of human diseases, its impact on humans may take a significant amount of time (as that is not the primary objective).
  • Preclinical Research: according to MedicineNet, studies “to test a drug, a procedure, or another medical treatment in animals.  The aim of a preclinical study is to collect data in support of the safety of the new treatment.  Preclinical studies are required before clinical trials in humans can be started”.
  • Clinical Research: according to the NCI, “research in which people, or data or samples of tissue from people, are studied to understand health and disease.  Clinical research helps find new and better ways to detect, diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. Types of clinical research include clinical trials, which test new treatments for a disease, and natural history studies, which collect health information to understand how a disease develops and progresses over time.”
  • Translational Research: according to the NCI, “a term used to describe the process by which the results of research done in the laboratory are used to develop new ways to diagnose and treat disease”. 

MRF's Grant Program

The MRF has been funding peer-reviewed research since 1998. The foundation provides emerging and established scientific investigators with highly sought-after grants that allow them to explore new, high-impact avenues in melanoma research. The types of grants offered are noted below:

Team Science Awards

The largest grant offered by the MRF, a Team Science Award, encourages collaboration across academic disciplines in an institution or among multiple institutions. Team Science Awards are required to address an unmet need or Special Topic area, as defined by the MRF’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

Established Investigator Awards (EIA)

Applicants must have at least a position of Associate Professor and a demonstrated research track record. This award encourages proven researchers to continue research on emerging challenges in melanoma.  Ideally, this award will generate data that can justify a much larger competitive grant.

Career Development Awards (CDA)

This award enables young researchers to generate the groundwork that can leverage additional grant funding from other funding bodies. As such, recipients must be either postdoctoral fellows with less than five years of postdoctoral experience or a research associate, instructor, assistant professor, or the equivalent.

Medical Student Awards

The MRF is committed to introducing studies early in their career to the clinical or research opportunities under the mentorship of an investigator engaged in melanoma research.

To date, the MRF has funded over $14 million dollars in research grants. For a full understanding of our research portfolio, view our research grant recipients.

Spectrum of Grant Funding

Many different organizations provide funding to researchers. Such organizations include: federal, foundation, academic, and industry supporters.  A description of each is outlined below:

  • Federal: government-provided support.  The government body providing the support may include such institutes as the National Cancer Institute (NCI), National Institute of Health (NIH), Department of Defense (DoD), as well as many others.
  • Foundation: support provided by an independent entity not related to the government, generally a nonprofit organization or a charitable trust.  The MRF and the Society of Melanoma Research (SMR) are examples of foundations.
  • Academic: related to an educational body, such as a cancer center or a medical center, college, or university.
  • Industry: funds provided by a for-profit organization, such as a pharmaceutical company.

Peer Review Process

The MRF, as well as many other organizations, utilizes a peer review process for its grant program.  A peer review process simply means that the grants are evaluated by an applicant’s peers in the melanoma field.  In addition to an applicant’s peers, advocates may also review the grant proposals to provide the patient perspective.  Any reviewer must not hold a conflict of interest due to collaborations or financial support which would inhibit them from objectively reviewing the proposal.   

Incorporating the Patient Perspective

The MRF is beginning to incorporate patient-centric reviewers (also known as advocates) into their grant review program.   Advocates involved with the MRF grant review process may be men or women, individuals with or without formal science training, and/or melanoma patients/ caregivers/ friends or family.   The main goals for the involvement of melanoma advocates in peer review committees are to 1) ensure that the melanoma patient’s point of view is critically represented during the grant proposal process, and 2) increase the pool of skilled melanoma advocates to participate in other scientific advisory or review committees at cancer centers or various drug development stakeholders such as the FDA, NCI, DoD, PCORI, and/or biotech/ pharmaceutical companies.

Available MRF Solicitations (RFPs)

To learn more about available MRF grant solicitations, please click here.  In general, medical student application RFPs are available in the fall; while EIA/CDA/Team award RFPs are posted in the winter.