President’s Message: November 2019

You might recall that last November I noted that AIM was 15 years old.  We spent our 15th year hard at work, and we were able to announce so many exciting new programs and so much good news in the world of melanoma.

In April we announced the grand opening of the International Melanoma Tissue Bank Consortium with the opening of the first branch, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Hillman Cancer Center. In September, we announced the opening of the second branch, at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco.  And you might have seen our announcement yesterday that the third branch, at The Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, is now open. See yesterday’s press release for the OHSU branch here; the release for the CPMC branch here; and the release for the UPMC branch here.

Fresh frozen primary tissue is so critical to melanoma research, and it is gratifying to finally have the tissue bank open and collecting tissue after so many years of work. I want to say a special thank you to our partners at each of the institutions and to our partners at Chicago-based Skin of Steel, who also raise funds to support the tissue bank.

There are three more branches of the tissue bank that will open soon. Stay tuned for those announcements!

There is news in melanoma research that we should all be aware of, specifically related to Stage II melanoma. As a reminder, Stage II refers to patients whose melanoma has grown into the dermis but has not spread to the lymph nodes or to a distant organ. Stage II melanomas are 1.01mm to 2mm thick with ulceration, or greater than 2mm thick with or without ulceration.

Until this year there has been no treatment for Stage II patients, beyond surgery to remove the melanoma. But that is changing: Currently, there are drugs in clinical trial for Stage II patients. Please read the article in this newsletter discussing these new developments, called In Plain English: What’s New in Stage II.

While it is always sobering to remember why AIM has been in existence for nearly 16 years—the death of my daughter at age 26, 16 years ago, from melanoma—I am heartened to report these successes to you because it means we are fulfilling our goal made after she died: to fund paradigm-shifting research in melanoma to end this disease in our lifetime while improving the lives of those it affects.

Valerie Guild
Founder & President
AIM at Melanoma Foundation
The Foundation Working to End Melanoma

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