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Posted: 5/9/2024

Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) -- Melanoma Research Program -- Melanoma Academy Scholar Award

The MRP Melanoma Academy (MA) is a unique, multi-institutional 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 members include Scholars and their Career Guides (primary mentors) and the MA is led by a 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 form collaborations with the other members of the MA, and build relationships within the melanoma patient advocacy community.

The intent of the FY24 MASA is to solicit applications for Scholars to join the MA. This award mechanism enables the Scholar to pursue a melanoma project, with the guidance of a Career Guide, that may be basic, translational, and/or clinical research and addresses at least one of the FY24 MRP Focus Areas in Section II.A.1. The Career Guide does not have 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 MASA applications from those whose ability to commit to conducting melanoma research is limited by minimal resources or a lack of resources – such as lack of a qualified Career Guide – at their institution, access to melanoma research tools, opportunities for establishing collaborations, or other obstacles.

• Required Pre-Application Deadline: July 29, 2024
• Application Submission Deadline: August 26, 2024

Areas of Interest

The MRP has identified three strategic priorities to ensure that funded research addresses unmet needs and/or underfunded areas of melanoma research and patient care. Those three priorities are:

Prevention and Interception: Individuals diagnosed with melanoma have significantly improved prognoses when the disease is diagnosed and treated before it has metastasized. Although primary prevention is critical, the MRP seeks to fund research that will lead to improved detection and monitoring capabilities, particularly for individuals at highest risk, as well as inhibition of melanoma initiation, early dissemination, emergence from tumor dormancy, and metastases (i.e., interception).
With the exception of studies investigating rare melanomas, the FY24 MRP is not requesting research into macrometastatic disease or treatment of macrometastatic disease.

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, and the rare melanoma sub-types are typically less-well studied. This has led to a variety of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment challenges. The MRP seeks to fund research across the entire cancer research spectrum (i.e., biology, etiology, prevention, diagnosis and detection, prognosis, treatment, and quality of life) that addresses unmet needs and knowledge gaps associated with rare melanomas.

Survivorship: The widely accepted definition of cancer, and therefore melanoma, survivorship spans the time from an individual receiving their initial diagnosis through the balance of their life. Under this definition, an individual is considered a melanoma survivor beginning at the time they receive their initial diagnosis. For the purposes of this Focus Area, the needs and impact of a melanoma diagnosis on family members, friends, and caregivers of melanoma survivors are also included within the purview of “melanoma survivorship.” With the increasing incidence of melanoma and the increased availability of effective treatment options for melanoma patients, the number of melanoma survivors is also increasing. Melanoma survivorship research, including wellness-related studies, covers a broad range of research areas that have the goal of improving the health and well-being of melanoma survivors and their families/caregivers. The MRP seeks to fund innovative and impactful research that advances studies in preservation of function (physical ability), quality of life improvement, symptom management, treatment outcomes, and support for psychological and social issues related to melanoma diagnosis, treatment, and life post-treatment.

Eligibility Requirements

• Scholar

To be named as the PI on the application, the Scholar:
○ Must be an independent investigator no more than 7 years from obtaining their first faculty-level appointment as of the full application submission deadline.
○ Must have an organizational commitment of independent laboratory space.
○ 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.
A Statement of Eligibility (Attachment 9) is required with the submission of the full application..

An investigator in a mentored position (e.g., postdoctoral fellow, clinical fellow) at the time of full application submission is NOT considered an independent investigator and is NOT eligible to be named as the PI on the MASA application.

• Career Guide

To be named as the Career Guide on the application, the Career Guide:
○ Must be an independent, established melanoma researcher at or above 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 MA activities as requested by the Scholar and MA Leadership throughout the MASA period of performance.
○ Must not be the current Director or the Deputy Director of the MA. The current MA Leadership can be found here: https://cdmrp.health.mil/mrp/ research_highlights/22Davies_Fisher_Holder_Chua_highlight
○ Must not be the named Career Guide on any previously funded (FY21-FY23) MASA applications.
○ Must not be named on more than ONE (1) FY24 MASA application.

Note: The Scholar and Career Guide DO NOT need to be located at the same organization.

Amount Description

The anticipated direct costs budgeted for the entire period of performance for an FY24 MRP Melanoma Academy Scholar Award should not exceed $550,000. Refer to Section II.D.5, Funding Restrictions, for detailed funding information.