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The Woiner Foundation partners to support melanoma tissue bank

The Woiner Foundation is proud to partner with AIM at Melanoma to bring a new fundraising event to Pittsburgh!  Please read the important message below from Dr. John Kirkwood.  We hope to see you on April 23rd.


Our 1st Annual – AIM for the CURE Melanoma Walk & Fun Run in Pittsburgh is scheduled on Saturday, April 23rd, supporting melanoma research at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI). We hope that you will join us and help us in our fight to eliminate melanoma, the most life-threatening form of skin cancer.

The urgency of melanoma research is supported by the following facts:

  • One person dies every hour from melanoma.
  • Melanoma does not discriminate in age or gender.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • Annual cost for treating melanoma has grown faster than the annual treatment costs for all cancers

Your support will help advance innovative research, and new and more promising personalized treatment
approaches for the future.

UPCI is one of four leading melanoma research centers in the U.S. that have laid the groundwork for a tissue bank consortium, which will provide the most basic of tools – primary tissue to be used in research. The tissue bank will be a critical resource for melanoma researchers to advance innovative and novel new treatment options to reverse the progress of this cancer. 100% of the net proceeds from this event will support the UPCI melanoma
tissue bank – benefiting those impacted by melanoma locally, regionally and nationally.

AIM at Melanoma is the largest international melanoma foundation globally engaged and locally invested in advancing the battle against melanoma through innovative research, legislative reform, education, and patient and caregiver support. The Woiner Foundation is proud to partner with AIM at Melanoma in their common mission to promote awareness and to fund melanoma research.

We would appreciate your consideration of support and invite you to join us in our unwavering battle against
melanoma. TOGETHER, we will continue to make a difference in the lives of individuals suffering from this deadly cancer and their families!

Warmest Regards,
John M. Kirkwood, MD
2016 AIM for the Cure Honorary Chair, Pittsburgh


First branch of national Melanoma Tissue Bank to open in Pittsburgh

i Nov 5th No Comments by

From autism to prostate cancer, researchers rely on specialized banks of donated human tissue to explore how diseases attack the body and what might stop them.

But melanoma specialists worry that the absence of a national tissue bank of cancerous skin is slowing new treatments, even as the disease has become the fastest-growing cancer in new diagnoses nationwide.

The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute will begin filling the research gap next year, when Pitt is expected to open the first of four branches of the new Melanoma Tissue Bank, organizers confirmed Tuesday.

“It’s hard to underestimate how important the access to these tissues will be in research of the future,” said Dr. John Kirkwood, the Pitt skin cancer program director and a longtime tissue bank advocate, who will help oversee the Pittsburgh branch.

Other branches are planned at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, Northwestern University near Chicago and Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, although researchers have yet to announce opening dates.

Pitt and the three other institutions formed a consortium to establish the first national tissue bank for melanoma. Smaller collections exist in hospitals and research institutions based on cases they treat.

Advocacy groups in Illinois and California are helping to raise more than $3 million for the consortium.

Kirkwood said every branch hopes to collect each year from patients who give their consent at least 50 melanoma tissue samples, tiny frozen slivers ranging from the size of a No. 2 pencil eraser to a fraction of that.

Branch directors will make tissue and tissue data available for peer-reviewed research projects around the world, including at the host institutions. Pitt researchers are still sorting out where to house the local branch, which Kirkwood said will need several new employees.

For the 600 melanoma patients treated annually in the Pitt skin cancer program, researchers said proximity to the bank should mean easy access to cutting-edge treatments developed at the school.

About one in 50 people in the United States will develop melanoma, up from 1 in 500 about 25 years ago, Kirkwood said.

“Even though we’ve raised money for the whole bank, our focus right now is getting (Dr.) Kirkwood up and running,” said Susan Steel, 56, a melanoma survivor who founded the Skin of Steel nonprofit outside Chicago. The group partnered several years ago with Aim at Melanoma, a San Francisco research organization, to raise money and plan the tissue bank.

Steel said the Pittsburgh branch will open first because Kirkwood, who has studied melanoma for more than three decades, is a research leader whose work commands international attention.

Publicity surrounding the local bank should bring a brighter spotlight to melanoma and early detection in Western Pennsylvania, said Julie Hudak, 46, of Squirrel Hill, whose husband, Daniel, died of melanoma in 2010.

“If it’s caught too late, there’s a chance of it being in the blood, and the survival rate is grim,” Hudak said.

She will join Kirkwood and other tissue bank supporters to discuss the plans at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Babcock Mansion, 5135 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside. The meeting is open to the public.

Kirkwood said the bank should accelerate progress unfolding in melanoma research, which until 2011 had generated three government-approved treatments for the disease. Six more have emerged since then.

“We have made unbelievable, truly incredible strides in the past several years,” Kirkwood said.

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Melanoma symposium set for Oct. 26 at UPMC

i Sep 4th No Comments by

UPMC CancerCenter and AIM at Melanoma, a nonprofit organization that supports melanoma research and promotes melanoma prevention and education, will host the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Patient and Caregiver Symposium. Leading melanoma experts will discuss emerging therapies, the importance of clinical trials, and innovations in research.

Saturday, October, 26, 2013
8 a.m. to noon
Herberman Conference Center
at UPMC Cancer Pavilion,
UPMC Shadyside
5150 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Speakers include:

  • Laura Korb Ferris, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Dermatology and Clinical and Translational Science, director, Clinical Trials, Department of Dermatology
  • Matthew P. Holtzman, MD, assistant professor, Division of Surgical Oncology
  • Ahmad Tarhini, MD, PhD, associate professor of Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science, UPCI Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program
  • Hussein Tawbi, MD, PhD, assistant professor of Medicine, Clinical and Translational Science, UPCI Melanoma and Skin Cancer Program, co-leader, UPCI Sarcoma Program, director, UPCI Clinical and Translational Research Center
  • Hassane M. Zarour, MD, professor of Medicine, Immunology and Dermatology, UPCI

Light food and refreshments will be available. The program is free. To register, visit and click on Patient and Caregiver Symposiums or call 412-623-7707.


Get a sunscreen discount and support The Woiner Foundation

i Jun 27th No Comments by

Raw Elements USA is teaming up with The Woiner Foundation to offer our supporters a way to get high-quality, discounted sunscreen while making a donation to our cause!

  • Go to and use the code 321RIDE at checkout.
  • Get 10% off your order and 10% will be donated to The Woiner Foundation!

Raw Elements USA sunscreen is an all-natural, organic base sunscreen with zinc oxide to provide maximum protection from sun without chemicals.   The sunscreen has an organic base and is child safe, reef safe and biodegradable.  Raw Elements has received a #1 rating from the Environmental Working Group.


FDA proposes tougher regulations on tanning beds

i May 7th No Comments by

Tanning beds could soon come with a warning label, alerting users to the risk of skin cancer and noting that the devices shouldn’t be used by people under 18.

Those changes could come through a new proposal from the Food and Drug Administration, which today announced plans to change the way that the sunlamps used in tanning beds are regulated.

Today, these tanning lamps, which emit ultraviolet radiation, are regulated as “low-risk,” class 1 devices, in the same category as tongue depressors and Band-Aids. These products aren’t required to be reviewed before going on the market, said Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Under the proposed change, tanning lamps would be considered class 2 devices, in the same category as CT scanners, which also expose people to radiation, Shuren said.

If the proposed order is finalized, “There will be requirements that products have to meet in order to go on the market,” Shuren said. Tanning machines also will warn customers not to use them if they have skin cancer or open skin lesions, or if they have a family history of skin cancer.

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New bill would ban minors from using tanning beds in Pennsylvania

i Apr 10th No Comments by

Rep. RoseMarie Swanger (R-Lebanon) held a press conference in Harrisburg on Monday to unveil her legislation that would safeguard young people from the dangers of ultraviolet radiation and the development of skin cancer by restricting tanning bed use for minors.

“Indoor tanning bombards the skin of its clients with DNA-altering radiation, yet it is currently unregulated in Pennsylvania,” said Swanger.  “This exposure to ultraviolet radiation is known to be particularly dangerous for teenagers, who are at greater risk of developing skin cancer from indoor and outdoor tanning.  Tanning beds are essentially cigarettes for the skin.”

House Bill 977 would require indoor tanning establishments to register with the Pennsylvania Department of Health and become licensed by the department.  It would require the department to perform an initial inspection of an indoor tanning facility, and would allow the department to re-inspect randomly, at the request of an operator or to investigate a complaint.

The legislation also would require indoor tanning facilities to post warning signs about ultraviolet radiation and its dangers, and provide a written warning to each customer.  Additionally, tanning devices would be required to meet federal standards.

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