2022 Research Grants

We are delighted to announce the AMRF grant recipients for 2022.

It is only through the support of our partners and donors that this support is available. Thank you for making a difference. Our Research Committee, which included two external experts, has awarded support to four outstanding young researchers. This year AMRF has doubled the number of researchers and funding support. We are also delighted to showcase two inaugural grants, the Warren Meanwell Melanoma Research Grant and the LEK Consulting Melanoma Research Grant

Inaugural Warren Meanwell Melanoma Research Grant

The Lentigo Maligna Project

Dr Bruna Melhoranse Gouveia
Melanoma Institute Australia and Sydney University, NSW

Inaugural LEK Consulting Melanoma Research Grant

Unlocking the melanoma tumour micro-environment through novel spatial transcriptomics methodologies

Dr Prachi Bhave
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC

Post Graduate Research Grant

Investigating spatial interactions of melanoma and cytotoxic cells within lymph nodes

Isobel Leece
Monash University, VIC

Early Career Researcher  Grant

Testing Nicotinamide as a metabolic adjuvant to increase efficacy of immunotherapy in melanoma

Dr Sara Alavi
Centenary Institute, NSW

The Lentigo Maligna Project

Dr Bruna Melhoranse Gouveia

Melanoma Institute Australia and Sydney University, NSW 

The Lentigo Maligna Spectrum Project aims to answer a crucial clinical question for melanoma management: how can we differentiate a melanoma in its very early stages from an invasive melanoma?

Lentigo Maligna represents the most prevalent form of melanoma in situ in Australia with an incidence rising rapidly.

There is an urgent need to improve the diagnostic accuracy of the Lentigo Maligna and its invasive variant, Lentigo Maligna Melanoma, in order to establish when it is safe to treat it with non-surgical modalities versus when surgery is mandatory, and which surgical margins are necessary.

Our research has established a safe and non-invasive assessment with confocal microscopy to detect microinvasion components on LM lesion. We aim to identify the confocal features with high predictive performance associated with the invasion component of this common type of melanoma. Therefore, we hope to contribute to daily clinical practice by helping confocal experts to identify LMMinvasive lesions with better accuracy.

Dr Bruna Melhoranse Gouveia

“It is an honour to be awarded the Inaugural Warren Meanwell Melanoma Research Grant 2022. We hope our work will make a real difference that will ultimately improve outcomes for melanoma patients. Thank you.”
Dr Bruna Melhoranse Gouveia

Dr Prachi Bhave

“It is an honour to be awarded the Inaugural LEK Consulting Melanoma Research Grant 2022. With the support of this grant, I will be able to carry out a detailed analysis of early-stage melanoma using novel spatial transcriptomics technology to determine the factors responsible for melanoma recurrence after surgery and progression. Thank you..”
Dr Prachi Bhave

Unlocking the melanoma tumour micro-environment through novel spatial transcriptomics methodologies

Dr Prachi Bhave

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC

This project has the potential to improve the survival of the thousands of Australians diagnosed with early stage melanoma each year.

Early-stage (stage 1-11) melanoma accounts for the largest proportion of new melanoma diagnoses, with a total number higher than all other stages combined. We aim to understand the mechanisms involved in melanoma recurrence after surgery by performing a comprehensive analysis of the clinical, pathological, molecular and genomic characteristics of early-stage melanoma with extreme clinical outcomes, such as very thin melanomas (<1mm) that recur rapidly after surgery. 

We will harness new, cutting-edge technology such as spatial transcriptomics to create an architectural map of cells both within and surrounding a tumour.

Our project shifts the focus from treatment of advanced disease to prevention of advanced disease, upholding the age-old adage of prevention is better than cure.


Morgan Mansell Prize: Victorian Melanoma Researcher of the Year

Congratulations to Dr Prachi Bhave on winning the 2022 Young Victorian Melanoma Researcher of the Year. The prize was presented at Melanoma Research Victoria’s Scientific Annual Meeting (November 2022 at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre).  Dr Bhave’s prize winning research was on efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors in acral melanoma (melanomas that occur on soles of feet, palms, nails and the most common melanoma in people with darker skin). Congratulations also to the runners up: Dr Claire Felmingham (improving skin cancer management with artificial intelligence); and Ms Peinan Zhao (genomic comparisons).

The Morgan Mansell Prize – Young Melanoma Researcher of the Year is awarded annually to the researcher judged to have produced the most outstanding research on melanoma and that all important cure, and is adjudicated on by Melbourne’s top medical scientists (Professors Mark Shackleton, Victoria Mar and Grant MacArthur and others from Melanoma Research Victoria). The MRV includes the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre; the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Institute, Austin Health; Alfred Hospital). The award will be made in perpetuity until a cure for melanoma is found.

Investigating spatial interactions of melanoma and cytotoxic cells within lymph nodes

Isobel Leece

Monash University, VIC 

The aim of this project is to evaluate immune biomarkers in 50 patient melanoma-invaded regional lymph nodes and site-matched and other lymph nodes without metastases. While prior work has focused heavily on T lymphocytes, we will primarily aim to phenotype Natural Killer (NK) cells and understand the interactions between NKs, type 1 dendritic cells and CD8 T cells, as these cells were shown to be highly relevant to immune control of primary melanomas. Studies in patient lymph nodes have suggested positive associations between NK cell density and patient longevity, but this has been insufficiently investigated.

Metastatic melanoma is a significant clinical problem, and the success of immune-based therapies relies on a functioning anti-tumour immune response. The lymph nodes are both control centres of locoregional anti-melanoma immune responses, and the first place melanoma spreads to in most patients.

We need to understand how melanomas interact with their draining lymph nodes better, to identify immune control points that can be manipulated for therapeutic benefit. Effective cytotoxic and antigen presentation functions of immune cells rely heavily on direct connections and proximity between cells. We know that lymphocytic infiltration of primary melanoma tumours is a positive prognostic indicator, but it is currently unknown whether characteristics of immune engagement are beneficial within lymph node metastasis. Previous studies of anti-melanoma immunity within lymph node metastases have used techniques such as flow cytometry that require complete disruption of tumour architecture, where the nuance of cell-to-cell connections is lost.

Isobel Leece

“This grant means amazing opportunities, for myself, for research into lymph node metastasis, and hopefully for patients. Thank you AMRF for this support.”
Isobel Leece

Dr Sara Alavi

“This grant allows me to continue my research interest and become closer to being an independent in research. Thank you.”
Dr Sara Alavi

Testing Nicotinamide as a metabolic adjuvant to increase efficacy of immunotherapy in melanoma

Dr Sara Alavi

Centenary Institute, NSW

Exhaustion of T cells is an important cause of immunotherapy failure. Our studies have demonstrated that nicotinamide can prevent and reverse the T exhaustion state in vitro. We would like to test whether this also occurs in vivo, using a melanoma model sensitive to immunotherapy with antibodies blocking immune inhibitory receptors on T cells.

We postulate that by preventing T cell exhaustion, nicotinamide can synergize with immune checkpoint blockade. This grant will be used test this hypothesis.


March 2023 update

Immunotherapy with antibodies that block immune checkpoint receptors on lymphocytes has become a leading treatment of melanoma. Immune checkpoints act like switches that turn off an attack by immune cells on the cancer. When checkpoints are blocked, the immune response against cancer is boosted and results in regression of the cancer and prolongation of patient survival. Despite these advances, not all patients will respond, and 40-60% of patients will relapse by 2-3 years on such treatments. Importantly on-treatment relapse may be caused by development of a T cell dysfunctional state caused by prolonged antigen exposure, called T cell exhaustion (TEx). TEx cells express multiple inhibitory receptors and demonstrate low cytotoxicity and diminished production of cytokines like IFNg and IL-2.

Click here to read the full report (PDF format)

Read the 2022 AMRF Melanoma Research Update

Melanoma research

The AMRF is committed to funding research aimed at furthering knowledge and offering better outcomes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of melanoma.

The AMRF will focus on supporting early career researchers in Australia.

Scroll to Top

Privacy Policy

Australian Melanoma Research Foundation (AMRF) respects and is committed to protecting the privacy of the people whose personal information it collects. We collect personal information about individuals who are employed by us, our donors, our volunteers, other supporters, allied associations, consultants and service providers.

Information we collect

Whenever we collect personal information, we will identify ourselves as AMRF and ensure people are aware of why we are collecting information and how we plan to use it.

The type of personal information AMRF usually collects and holds includes names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, donation date, reason for donation, merchandise orders and other information such as health related information pertaining to AMRF research and program delivery. This information may be collected in person, via our website on the secure payment gateway, as well as other sources.

When people visit our website, or download information from it, the following information is recorded by Google Analytics:

  • Their network location and IP address
  • The date and time of their visit, pages visited, and time spent on each page
  • Referring site details (ie the site and page they came from to arrive at this site)
  • Type of web browser they used
  • Type of operating system they used
  • JavaScript support, screen resolution, and screen colour processing ability

This information is only used for statistical and website development purposes. We make limited use of cookies on our website. We use cookies to improve the functionality of our website, and to remember user preferences when people return.

In the event where an individual shares unsolicited personal information that AMRF would not have collected for the purposes outlined above that information will be destroyed or de-identified as soon as is practicable.

How we use and disclose personal information

We collect and use stakeholder’s personal information to carry out the functions and activities of AMRF and to comply with our legal obligations, to maintain and update our records and to help us manage and provide our services.

We may also use information to ask for support and to keep people informed about the ways in which our donors and supporters help us to make a difference to raise funds for research, awareness and early detection programs.  People have the right to opt out of any communications from AMRF.  This will not stop them receiving receipts and other transactional communications as required by law.

We may disclose personal information to third parties who assist us to perform functions on our behalf (such as commercial mail preparation services, this information is permanently deleted by the provider upon completion of the service and confirmed in writing of such).  These external service providers are under a duty to maintain the privacy and security of your information in line with this Privacy Policy and to use your personal information only for the purpose for which it is disclosed.

AMRF does not use any government related identifiers, such as Medicare numbers or tax file numbers, of an individual as our own identifier.

Marketing and communications

We may use people’s information within AMRF only in connection with marketing and fundraising campaigns. We may provide marketing communications to stakeholders on an ongoing basis by telephone, electronic messages (eg. email), online (including websites and mobile apps) and other means, unless they opt out or we are subject to legal restrictions. These may include communications relating to AMRF and our programs, campaign and promotional messages, event invitations, fundraising opportunities and newsletters.

AMRF also sends transactional communications which include but are not limited to: Donation & Tax Receipts, forgotten password e-mails, event sign up confirmation and confirmations from Web forms.

To opt-out of receiving AMRF marketing communications people can:

  • Select the “unsubscribe” option in one of the marketing communications that they receive from us.
  • Send an email to: admin@melanomaresearch.com.au
  • Call us on 0419 822 969
  • Send a written request to: PO Box 574, Kent Town DC SA 5071

Security of personal information

AMRF regards the security of personal information as a priority and takes a number of precautions to protect people’s personal information from loss, misuse, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure. Specific security precautions are in place for processing online payments through payment gateway providers Stripe and PayPal which include the use of encrypted links, dedicated private connections and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. However, the Internet is not a secure environment and although all care is taken, we cannot guarantee the security of information people provide to us via electronic means such as email.

If people become aware of any inaccuracy in the personal information, we hold about themselves, they are encouraged to contact AMRF so we can update any personal information we hold.


Where it is lawful and practicable, we will allow individuals to deal with us on an anonymous basis. For example, if we receive a telephone enquiry, we will not require that the enquirer gives us their name, although depending on the nature of the enquiry, we may not be able to answer it unless they do.

We can also accept gifts and other forms of support anonymously. However, provisions contained in taxation legislation require AMRF to collect the name of the donor if the donor requires a tax-deductible receipt.

Image copyright

AMRF’s reputation and goodwill is extremely important. Permission to use images featured on this website has only been given to AMRF and therefore should not be downloaded or used in any way by a third party without consent.

For information on obtaining permission for an image, please email admin@melanomaresearch.com.au.

Acceptance of terms

If AMRF updates or changes this Privacy Policy, the changes will be made on this page. Your continued use of AMRF’s website following the posting of changes will mean you accept those changes.

Contact us

If you have any questions about privacy-related issues OR you wish to lodge a complaint about a breach of this policy OR other privacy matter OR you do not wish to be contacted by us to ask for your support, please contact us by email at  admin@melanomaresearch.com.au. Alternatively our postal address is below:

PO Box 574
Kent Town DC SA 5071

We take your privacy concerns seriously. Where you express any concerns that we have interfered with your privacy, we will respond to let you know who will be handling your matter and when you can expect a further response. We may request additional details from you regarding your concerns and may need to engage or consult with other parties in order to investigate and deal with your issue. We will keep records of your request and any resolution.

For information about privacy generally, or if your concerns are not resolved to your satisfaction, you may contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner at www.oaic.gov.au and on 1300 363 992.