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On June 17, 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved their fiscal year 2015 Defense Appropriations bill which includes $50 million for the Department of Defense's (DoD) Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program (PRCRP), doubling the level of funding from fiscal year 2014. This announcement illustrates the Committee’s dedication to ensuring U.S. service members and citizens have access to innovative treatment options against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. As part of this approval, nine cancers, including melanoma, are eligible to compete for this funding. The Senate Appropriations Committee report noted the special burden melanoma places on members of the military.
Deeply committed to enhancing the availability of breakthrough therapies for people with melanoma, the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) and the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) commend the Senate Appropriations Committee’s recognition of the urgent need to invest resources and talent into advancing medical research that will bring new and better treatment options to our United States service members and citizens.
“The MRF has worked with many melanoma patients who were or currently are in the military and we see the impact this disease has on their lives. The increasing incidence of melanoma among service personnel is not surprising, given the undeniable link between melanoma and exposure to UV radiation,” said Tim Turnham, executive director of the MRF. “The MRF and MRA jointly applaud the Senate Appropriations Committee for expanding its protection for those who are sacrificing to protect us.”
The Senate’s decision to increase the pool of funding and further prioritize specific cancers, such as melanoma, comes at an important time for the medical research community. Congressional funding through the PRCRP will also soften the blow of reductions in the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) research budget to progress in treating melanoma.
“Investment in melanoma research will support the entire research community and capitalize on the momentum of recent research and treatment breakthroughs,” said Wendy Selig, MRA president and CEO. “We must have a sustained investment of resources and a committed focus from the best and brightest minds to ensure that we can expedite more concepts through the clinical development system and through the regulatory process so patients can benefit from the progress.”
To ensure breakthrough research around melanoma treatments progresses, the MRA and the MRF will continue working with experts in the research community to ensure that newly allocated funds are being used to the best benefit for people with melanoma, with assets afforded to the most promising research initiatives.