Melanoma is one of the most dangerous forms of skin cancer, because of its ability to spread to other parts of the body. This year alone, there will be about 70,000 new cases of melanoma in the U.S. and about 8,700 deaths, according to estimates published by the National Cancer Institute.
The good news is the fight against melanoma is gaining momentum.
John Gray, an Oregon real estate developer and industrialist, gave $5 million to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to advance skin cancer research and treatment. The gift will help support the institute’s search for melanoma therapies that target the genetic mutations that enable the cancer cells to grow.
This gift comes at a time when there has been some significant progress in helping patients with melanoma. In August, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the targeted therapy drug vemurafenib. This drug, which is made by Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., stops a mutated gene called BRAF from helping cancer cells grow.
John Gray’s philanthropic investment in the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute will establish the John Gray Endowed Chair of Cancer Research within the Knight Cancer Institute. This chair will lead a team of basic scientists, clinical researchers, genetics experts, physicians and surgeons who will be focused on two goals: finding molecular defects that drive the growth of melanoma and the therapies that arrest those mutations. The gift will also support a long-term expansion of OHSU’s registry of medical and biological data from melanoma patients, and fund melanoma-focused research projects.
For more information about John Gray’s gift, see the OHSU Foundation’s press release.