Merlinda Chelette (1963-2019)

Director – KidneyCan

Our beloved Merlinda went to be with her Savior on April 17, 2019 after a valiant 7 year battle with kidney cancer. Merlinda was an inaugural board member of KidneyCan (Kidney Cancer Coalition) and dedicated herself to funding kidney cancer research at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas. She was active on the Patient Council Board at UTSW and also volunteered weekly at the Simmons Cancer Center.

Merlinda established and Co-Chaired the 2017 and 2018 Rock The Cure events in Dallas and created and chaired the 2017 Tee Off Fore Kidney Cancer Golf Tournament also in Dallas.  These events raised over $200,000 for kidney cancer research.

Merlinda’s passion for helping other kidney cancer patients and her desire to bring awareness to the disease made a tremendous difference in countless lives. She will forever remain in our hearts.

Kidney Cancer Coalition & KCAN: Stronger Together

Kidney Cancer Coalition and KCAN have joined forces to accelerate life-saving research and clinical trials for kidney cancer.

The union of these two complementary charitable organizations represents a promising step for the kidney cancer community.

Together, we’ll be known as KidneyCAN—carrying that name forward while embracing the “CAN” legacy to reinforce our driven and optimistic vision for our role in the fight against this deadly disease.

Battling what is among the most prevalent forms of cancer among men (#6) and women (#10) in the U.S.*—yet still among the most under-funded and under-recognized cancers— patients, caregivers, advocates, and scientists are in dire need of greater awareness, funding, and action. That is our focus.

As one, we bring proven effectiveness at raising money for research—from grassroots efforts, to private contributions and corporate grants, up through substantial federal funding. Our impact in just four combined years of existence includes:

Spearheading efforts to initiate a $45 million Congressional grant program for research;

Raising over $1 million through local efforts and events including our “Rock the Cure” fundraisers, with over $625,000 already put to work in research labs and studies;

Leading the first-ever grassroots-funded clinical trial for kidney cancer; and

Earning a reputation for being extremely efficient at deploying capital directly to clinical and scientific endeavors in pursuit of breakthroughs.

Our founders—Brenda and Ralph Knapp, who started KC Coalition in 2016, and Bryan Lewis, who formed KCAN in 2017—recognized the potential benefits of pooling their strengths and resources. These three devoted leaders have personal experiences with kidney cancer, as patients, caregivers, and advocates. Their commitment to the cause is profound.

Brenda, Ralph, and Bryan remain confident that we “CAN” find a cure in our lifetime, despite the historical lack of funding—particularly compared to other forms of cancer—which continues to leave a severe shortage of trials resulting in roughly 15,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.*






Bryan Lewis, President & Co-Founder

Co-Chairs Drs. Hans Hammers & Tony Choueiri

Brenda Knapp, Treasurer & Co-Founder

We are proud to host the 1st annual Kidney Cancer Research Summit bringing together renowned scientists, young investigators, industry and research advocates.

We had a successful advocacy day on the Hill March 12th

Thank you to all who let your voice be heard

In the News

June 25, 2018 / News Page

Pembrolizumab active as first-line therapy in renal cell carcinoma subtype

Pembrolizumab monotherapy in the first-line setting induced a response among nearly 40% of patients with clear cell renal cell carcinoma across all IMDC risk groups, according to interim results from cohort A of the KEYNOTE-427 trial presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting.
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June 22, 2018 / News Page

Investigating Immunotherapy Treatment in Renal Cell Carcinoma

Charles G. Drake, MD, PhD, professor of medical oncology at New York Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, discusses his thoughts on whether sunitinib would be more successful as a treatment for patients with renal cell carcinoma if used in the neoadjuvant setting. He debates whether immunotherapies or neoadjuvant therapies would be more useful.
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June 20, 2018 / News Page

The Rapidly Evolving Landscape of Immunotherapy 6/20/2018

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March 26, 2018 / News Page

Continued Advocacy

Read how the founders of KidneyCAN raised awareness and funds for Kidney Cancer research at UTSW.
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September 12, 2017 / News Page

Combination immunotherapy FDA approved

Combination immunotherapy improves kidney cancer survival September 12, 2017| Media Contact: Avery Anderson Dr. Hans Hammers, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine and...
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Donate Now!

Since our inception in 2016, we have proudly given over $625,000 to Kidney Cancer Research!


Funded major projects to date include:

  • RADVAX investigator led immunotherapy trial for 25 advanced kidney cancer patients at UT Southwestern combining Nivolumab, Ipilimumab and SBRT.

  • Support of UT Southwestern’s Kidney Cancer Research Program. 1 of only 2 SPOREs (Specialized Programs of Research Excellence) for Kidney Cancer in the US.

 Our primary sources of support are donations from the general public and fundraising.  

Our mission is to abolish Kidney Cancer as a threat to the life and health of patients through advocacy and accelerating research by  offering direct financial support for clinical and laboratory researchers with promising ideas.


Kidney Cancer strikes 63,340/year

14,970/year die from the disease

We want to help change those statistics!