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Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) -- Melanoma Research Program -- Melanoma Academy Scholar Award
The MRP Melanoma Academy (MA) is a unique, interactive virtual academy providing intensive monitoring, national networking, collaborations, and a peer group for early-career investigators. The overarching goal of the MA is to develop a network of successful, highly productive melanoma researchers in a collaborative research and career development environment.
The MA is a multi-institutional virtual career and research development platform that consists of Scholars and their Career Guides (primary mentors) and is managed by an Academy Director and Deputy Director (i.e., the MA Leadership). The MRP Melanoma Academy Scholar (i.e., the investigator named as the Principal Investigator [PI] on the MASA application) is expected to participate in all development and training activities hosted by the MA Leadership, such as participation in monthly webinars and one-on-one mentoring sessions. Additionally, the Scholar and Career Guide are expected to communicate and collaborate with other members of the MA (other Scholars and Career Guides, MA Leadership), and build relationships within the melanoma patient advocacy community.
The MA Leadership serves as a resource for the Scholars and Career Guides, assesses the progress of Scholars, and facilitates communication and collaboration among all Scholars and Career Guides, as well as with national research and patient advocacy communities. In addition to fostering scientific development, the MA Leadership provides opportunities for professional and leadership development of the Scholars, including the skills and competencies needed to fund and manage a productive laboratory. Applicants to the FY23 MASA can learn more about the MA on the MRP website.
The intent of the FY23 MASA is to solicit applications for Scholars to join the MA. This award mechanism enables the Scholar to pursue a melanoma project, under the guidance of a Career Guide, that may be basic, translational, and/or clinical research and addresses at least one of the FY23 MRP Focus Areas in Section II.A.1. The Career Guide is not required to be at the same institution as the Scholar. In addition to the activities described above, the Scholar and their Career Guide are required to attend a Department of Defense (DOD) MRP biennial multi-day MA workshop. In alternate years, they must also attend a DOD MRP MA 1-day workshop.
The MRP encourages applications from Scholars whose ability to commit to conducting melanoma research is limited by minimal resources or a lack of resources, such as a qualified Career Guide at their institution, access to melanoma research tools, opportunities for establishing collaborations, or other obstacles. The MRP also encourages applications from minorities.
• Required Pre-Application Deadline: Aug. 31, 2023
• Application Submission Deadline: Sep. 22, 2023
Areas of Interest
The MRP is seeking to support research that aims to inhibit melanoma earlier in the disease progression to prevent metastasis, reduce suffering, and increase survival. To be considered for funding, applications for the FY23 MRP Melanoma Academy Scholar Award (MASA) must address at least one of the following FY23 MRP Focus Areas.
Prevention: The MRP challenges the research community to expand the concept of melanoma prevention to include improving detection and monitoring capabilities, as well as inhibiting the initiation of melanoma, the early dissemination, the emergence from tumor dormancy, and the development of metastases. The FY23 MRP Focus Areas that encourage research into the role of prevention throughout the disease process are: • Identify and understand risk factors and biomarker determinants for melanoma, including rare subtypes. • Develop prediction and surveillance tools for distinguishing patient populations and/or early tumors at risk for second primary, recurrence, metastasis, and/or treatment toxicity. • Develop new tools for the detection of melanoma, which includes easily accessible technology (beyond the dermoscope) for primary care physicians, dermatologists, oncologists, and/or pathologists. • Understand how precursor lesions evolve, and/or how environmental/endogenous factors influence melanomagenesis and/or early dissemination. • Identify how the tumor microenvironment and/or microbiome impacts tumor initiation, response to therapy, progression, recurrence, and/or dormancy. • Delineate the cellular and/or molecular mechanisms that influence metastatic spread (e.g., site-specific adaptations), recurrence, and/or dormancy. • Develop new preclinical models of melanomagenesis, early dissemination, and progression that more faithfully represent the disease progression observed in humans.
Rare melanomas: Rare melanoma subtypes (e.g., uveal, acral, mucosal, pediatric melanomas) can have distinct characteristics compared to cutaneous melanoma, which makes up the majority of melanoma diagnoses. This has led to a variety of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment challenges. Furthermore, rare melanomas are less well-studied than cutaneous melanoma, resulting in a dearth of knowledge across the entire cancer research spectrum. The following FY23 MRP Focus Area encourages research relevant to rare melanoma research and patient care: • Address unmet needs across the entire cancer research spectrum (biology, etiology, prevention, early diagnosis and detection, prognosis, treatment, and survivorship) for rare melanomas.
Survivorship: Increasing availability of effective treatment options for advanced melanoma over the last decade means that patients are living longer. This has created a need to address the long-term effects of treatment toxicities, fertility issues, and the overall quality of life of patients living with melanoma. The following FY23 MRP Focus Area encourages research relevant to these important survivorship issues: • Address the physical and psychological impacts of a melanoma diagnosis, symptom trajectories, adverse effects of treatment, and other outcomes that affect individuals with melanoma and their family members.
To be named as the PI on the application, the Scholar: ○ Must be no more than 7 years from obtaining their first faculty-level appointment as of the full application submission deadline. – A Statement of Eligibility (Attachment 9) is required with the submission of the full application. ○ May be in a non-tenure track or tenure track position. ○ Must not have a concurrent career-development-like award at the time of this award. ○ Must have an institutional commitment of 50% protected time for melanoma research and participation in MA activities as directed by MA Leadership.
Individuals in a postdoctoral research position (Ph.D.) or clinical fellowship (M.D.), or equivalent at the time of full application are not eligible to be named as the PI.
• Career Guide
To be named as the Career Guide on the application, the Career Guide: ○ Must be an independent, established melanoma researcher at the level of Associate Professor (or equivalent). ○ Must have melanoma research funding (past and present). ○ Must have a record of melanoma publications in peer-reviewed journals. ○ Must demonstrate a commitment to develop and sustain the Scholar’s independent career in the field of melanoma. ○ Must be committed to fully participating in the MA and potentially serving on the MA Advisory Board as requested by MA Leadership throughout the MASA period of performance.
Note: The PI and Career Guide DO NOT need to be located at the same organization
The anticipated direct costs budgeted for the entire period of performance for an FY23 MRP MASA should not exceed $550,000. Refer to Section II.D.5, Funding Restrictions, for detailed funding information.