President’s Message – January 2019

Here at AIM at Melanoma, the year is off to a great start.  In a nutshell: New year, new programs, new research.

AIM has launched a new program called Peer Connect, a peer-to-peer support program for the melanoma community.  Interested melanoma patients, family members, and caregivers who join the program will be matched with a peer to share knowledge, experience, emotional support, and more. AIM will generally try to connect melanoma “veterans” with those newer to the disease—a Mentor to a Mentoree—unless requested otherwise.  We are thrilled to be able to offer this service to all who are affected by melanoma.  Read more in this newsletter on the program—and please consider joining.

Right on the heels of Peer Connect is the introduction of AIM’s DIY Fundraising program, a program many of you have requested over the years.  While our Walks & Fun Runs have always been popular, many melanoma patients, families, and caregivers have asked if they can raise funds for AIM research and programming on their own.  YES is now the answer!  If you want to host a dinner or tennis tournament, or compete in an endurance event or a marathon, or celebrate your birthday or anniversary, and raise funds for AIM in the process, you now can do so easily, with our new online DIY system.  Thank you for your patience while we put together the program, and—as always—we’re grateful for your support.

I’m also excited to introduce two new members of the AIM family, Cindy LeBlanc and Risa Salinas.  Cindy is our National Director of Walks & Events, and Risa is our Director of Operations.  More on them in this newsletter, too.

On the research front, there is more that’s new.  Though we made reference to it in our last newsletter and elsewhere, I wanted to formally introduce the fifth site of the International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium (IMTBC), which is located in Victoria, Australia, at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.  Grant MacArthur—the centre’s head of the Molecular Oncology Laboratory and Senior Principal Research Fellow—and I have worked together for many years as co-chairs on AIM’s think tank (the International Melanoma Working Group) and our adaptive platform trial (Melanoma International Collaboration for Adaptive Trials), and I am proud to announce this new partnership. Australia and New Zealand have the highest melanoma rates in the world, and the disease kills more young Australian 20-39 year-olds than any other single cancer.  Collecting tissue from both Australia and the U.S. will give our researchers great insight into the variations and mutations of the disease, with the goal of personalized treatments based on shared tumor types and like mutations.  Grant, like the other physician-investigators at our four U.S. sites, has special expertise and interest in primary melanoma tissue research, and he cannot wait to open the doors of this new branch of the IMTBC and begin researching and collaborating with our other locations.  I will let you know when we are officially open in Australia—and of course, most importantly, I’ll keep you updated on the research that emerges from all five sites of the tissue bank.

We’re looking forward to a year filled with more new programs and new research—and more work with all of you who support us.  As we have been saying: Together, we can end melanoma.  We can.

Valerie Guild
Co-Founder & President
AIM at Melanoma Foundation

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