WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), the leading private funder of melanoma research, and the Saban Family Foundation, a charitable foundation focused on supporting medical, children’s and education programs in the U.S. and Israel, have jointly awarded $2.25 million in grants to three teams of investigators based at institutions in Israel and the U.S. These awards will support research to improve the treatment of melanoma, the most aggressive type of skin cancer.
“Melanoma rates continue to increase worldwide, while the rates of other common cancers have been decreasing,” said Debra Black, MRA Co-Founder and Chair. “Several new treatment options have been made available to melanoma patients in recent years, but there is still an urgent need for better treatments. It will take collaboration from around the globe and all sectors of the research industry to defeat this disease. MRA is incredibly grateful to the Saban Family Foundation for their generous commitment to melanoma research.”
“We are tremendously excited to partner with MRA to fund research during this pivotal time in the battle against melanoma,” said Dr. Cheryl Saban, President of the Saban Family Foundation. “The Foundation’s gift will help fund promising research from world-class institutions in Israel and the U.S., speeding the development of therapies for this aggressive form of skin cancer.”
The Saban Family Foundation-MRA Team Science Awards, which were offered to interdisciplinary teams each led by a Principal Investigator at an institution in Israel, represent the first regionally targeted funding opportunity for MRA. The organization has to-date awarded more than $51 million worldwide to advance the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of melanoma. The three selected proposals represent distinctly innovative approaches to improving the treatment of patients with metastatic melanoma.
A team of researchers from institutions in the U.S. and Israel will receive one of the Team Science Awards to conduct the study “TAMs in melanoma: Mechanisms and therapeutic efficacy of novel inhibitors.” Team members are Rotem Karni, PhD, and Tal Burstyn-Cohen, PhD, both of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; H. Shelton Earp, III, MD, and Stephen Frye, PhD, of the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center; and S. Gail Eckhardt, MD, and Douglas Graham, MD, PhD, of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
“We are very excited to receive the Saban Family Foundation-MRA Team Science Award to study these new melanoma therapeutic targets,” said Dr. Douglas Graham. “This award has enabled our research team at the University of Colorado and our collaborators at the University of North Carolina to launch an international collaboration with colleagues at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for this team project. These studies will provide further validation of TAM receptors as cancer targets and will allow us to test the efficacy of the first in class small molecule inhibitors which could be transitioned into clinical trials to improve outcomes for patients with metastatic melanoma.”
A team of researchers from Tel Aviv University —comprised of Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, PhD, Neta Erez, PhD, and Zvi Ram, MD—will receive the second Team Science Award for the project “Nanomedicine co-targeting of neuroinflammation in melanoma brain metastases.” A third Team Science Award will go to researchers Gal Markel, MD, PhD, of Sheba Medical Center, and Tamar Geiger, PhD, and Noam Shomron, PhD, of Tel Aviv University for the research proposal “Discovery of novel immune checkpoints in melanoma.”
About The Melanoma Research Alliance
MRA is a public charity formed in 2007 under the auspices of the Milken Institute, with the generous founding support of Debra and Leon Black. Due to the ongoing support of its founders, 100% of every dollar MRA raises goes to support its melanoma research program. The organization is poised to build on recent momentum in the field, accelerating the pace of scientific discovery and translation in order to eliminate suffering and death due to melanoma. MRA’s ability to fund wide-ranging research in melanoma is amplified by unique multi-faceted collaborations and partnerships with individuals, private foundations and corporations. For more information, please visit www.curemelanoma.org.
About The Saban Family Foundation
The Saban Family Foundation was established in 1999 by Haim and Cheryl Saban to support medical, children's and education programs in the United States and to address unmet societal needs in Israel. To date, Haim and Cheryl have given over $233 million to a number of causes. Based on the belief that in order to reach their full potential, young people need healthy starts, caring adults, safe spaces, education for marketable skills, and opportunities to contribute to their communities, The Foundation provides grants for a select number of organizations engaged in providing high-quality healthcare, social services, and K-12, education. Foundation grants are given for program initiatives as well as policy and advocacy efforts on behalf of children whose needs in these areas are not being met. Since its inception, the Foundation has made numerous contributions to a variety of worthy initiatives and organizations, including: the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Saban Community Clinic in Los Angeles, The Saban Pediatric Medical Center at Soroka Hospital, The Saban Birth & Maternity Center at Soroka Hospital, the John Wayne Cancer Institute, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, American Israel Education Foundation, William Jefferson Clinton Foundation, and the United Friends of the Children, amongst many others. The Saban Family Foundation is based in Los Angeles and led by Executive Director Dr. Cheryl Saban.