CURE OM - Leading the Way in Ocular Melanoma Research 

The MRF's CURE OM initiative is leading the ocular melanoma (OM) field forward. We are committed to accelerating the development of effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure for this disease. Our scientific initiative is led by our international, interdisciplinary Scientific Steering Committee and includes research grants, biannual international scientific meetings and partnerships with leading organizations, including industry. These efforts ensure continued collaboration, support and coordination to move OM research forward.  

Research Grants

In 2012, CURE OM began funding ocular melanoma-specific research grants. Falling under the MRF's general Research Grant Program, the research emphasizes both basic and clinical research projects that explore innovative approaches to understanding OM and its treatment. Proposals are submitted from around the world and undergo a rigorous peer-reviewed process by experts and leaders in the OM field. This helps us identify the most promising and impactful research to fund. Since 2012, over $1.4 million has been secured specifically for OM research and 9 different research awards - 4 Established Investigator Awards, 3 Career Development Awards, 1 Junior Investigator Award and a Pilot Proposal - have been funded. Please read about The CURE OM grant recipients are listed below, or learn about all of the MRF's previous award winners.

The Review Process

The MRF's scientific peer-review process ensures every research proposal submitted is reviewed by no less than two melanoma experts. This rigorous process involves hundreds of researchers from academic institutions throughout the United States and around the world. Each application is reviewed in both a quantitative and a qualitative process followed by a thorough assessment by a panel of melanoma researchers. Top proposals are considered by the Scientific Advisory Committee and a discussed at length by the MRF's Board of Directors

After a successful grassroots fundraising effort with the 2015 #CUREOM Unite! campaign, a new Established Investigator Award was established. This award prompted the launch of the first patient and caregiver research grant review process, allowing the OM community to take part in the scientific review, helping to ultimately determine the awardee. Have you ever wanted to have a voice in the OM research community? This opportunity will continue for future CURE OM research grants. For more information on how to become involved, contact Lauren Johnston, Program Officer for Rare Melanoma Subtypes, at

CURE OM Grant Recipients


Walter Fast, PhD - University of Texas at Austin - Innovative Approaches for GNAQ/11 Mutant Characterization and Therapeutic Targeting - CURE OM Pilot Proposal Focused on GNAQ/11 Mutant Uveal Melanoma - Made possible through the efforts of the MRF as well as the generosity of Jack Odell, John Dagres and their supporters

Alison Skalet, MD, PhD - Oregon Health & Science University - A Novel Peripheral Blood Biomarker for Early Diagnosis of Uveal Melanoma


Alan Shain, PhD - The Regents of the University of California, San Francisco - The genetic evolution of uveal melanoma - Career Development Award


Andrew Aplin, PhD - Thomas Jefferson University - Regulation of the response to targeted inhibitors in uveal melanoma - Career Development Award - #CURE OM Unite! Grant and matching funds by Mark and Alison Weinierl

Jae Hyuk Yoo, PhD - University of Utah - Mechanism of metastasis in a less common molecular subset of uveal melanoma - CURE OM Junior Fellowship Award made possible by a grant from AstraZeneca


John Sondek, PhD - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Fast cycling Gaq Ga11 - Established Investigator Award


William Tansey, PhD - Vanderbilt University Medical Center - MYC as an invisible driver in metastatic uveal melanoma - Established Investigator Award

Richard Carvajal, MD - Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center - Overcoming resistance to MEK inhibition in advanced uveal melanoma - Career Development Award


Levi Garraway, MD, PhD - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute - Dissecting therapeutic avenues in UM through genomic and functional studies - Established Investigator Award

John Sondek, PhD - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Interdiction of signaling by G-alpha-q to treat ocular melanoma - Established Investigator Award

CURE OM Patient Registry

CURE OM is developing a national patient-reported registry to support research advancement in ocular melanoma. The OM patient-registry will capture comprehensive disease data including: genetics and disease characteristics, environment, types of treatments, physical outcomes and the patient’s quality of life. It will also inform patient-centered research initiatives focused on policy, patient preferences and standards of care. In addition to collecting invaluable disease data, the registry will support the collaboration of patients, caregivers, clinicians, researchers, and the pharmaceutical industry to find a cure together. 

The 2016 #CUREOM Unite! campaign supported the initial development and framework of the registry. To date, CURE OM has established a working group that is currently establishing a registry protocol and data set, establishing key partnerships and setting the foundation to launch the registry. A comprehensive update on this progress can be found here.

Scientific Meetings

CURE OM hosts biannual international scientific meetings aimed at increasing collaboration in the OM field in order to accelerate treatment and research. Each meeting includes a diverse group of speakers and participants from around the world. In October 2018, CURE OM will host the CURE OM Ocular Melanoma Scientific Meeting at the Society for Melanoma Research Congress in Manchester, England.


CURE OM has established important partnerships with leading research organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, the Society for Melanoma Research and the International Rare Cancers Initiative, just to name a few! We also work regularly with leading melanoma research institutions all over the world. Together, we are leading the way in finding a cure for ocular melanoma.