Addressing Disease Clusters, Like Libby

On January 26, 2011, Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Crapo (R-ID) introduced S. 76, Strengthening Protections for Children and Communities From Disease Clusters Act (“Trevor’s Law”).  The legislation strengthens public health agencies’ ability to address suspected disease clusters.  The bill has not yet been introduced in the House.

Forty-two disease clusters have been in 13U.S.states, showing incidence of numerous types of cancer, birth defects and other chronic illnesses.  Only one of the 42 clusters – inLibby,Montana- showed a specific source for chemical contamination: asbestos.  Libby was identified as a cluster due to the high occurrence of malignant and respiratory diseases, including mesothelioma.  The study looked at clusters that have occurred since 1976 when Congress passed the Toxic Substance Control Act, which was meant to regulate the use of toxic chemicals in industrial, commercial and consumer products.  The study concluded that the “state-level capacity to address (disease clusters) was inconsistent and disjointed.”

When a community is concerned that they are experiencing an unexpected increase in the incidence of birth defects, cancer or other diseases, people become concerned and want help in getting answers to their questions.  This legislation aims to improve response to suspected disease clusters by:

• Strengthening federal agency coordination and accountability when investigating these potential certain “clusters” of disease;
• Increasing assistance to areas impacted by potential disease clusters; and
• Authorizing federal agencies to form partnerships with states and academic institutions to investigate and help address disease clusters.

This bill will create safer and healthier communities across the nation, by identifying communities at risk and halting emerging disease clusters.


Strengthening Protections for Children and Communities From Disease Clusters Act

Click here to view the bill

Adequacy of State Capacity to Address Noncommunicable Disease Clusters in the Era of Environmental Public Health Tracking

Click here to view the journal article

Health Alert: Disease Clusters Spotlight the Need to Protect People from Toxic Chemicals

Click here to read the report

President Obama’s Long-Term Deficit Reduction Plan Prioritizes Medical Research

On April 13, President Obama unveiled the administration’s long-term plan for deficit reduction. Stating that “most Americans believe we should invest in…medical research,” Obama outlined a plan that will result $2 trillion in savings and reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 12 years. While the plan calls for deficit reduction partially through cuts to domestic discretionary spending, Obama pledged to protect “investments in the future,” including those in medical research.

“The first step in our approach is to keep annual domestic spending low by building on the savings that both parties agreed to last week.  That step alone will save us about $750 billion over 12 years.  We will make the tough cuts necessary to achieve these savings, including in programs that I care deeply about, but I will not sacrifice the core investments that we need to grow and create jobs.  We will invest in medical research.”

-President Barack Obama, April 13, 2011

Details on the administration’s deficit reduction framework, as well as a transcript of the president’s address, are available at:

A fact sheet on the framework is available at:

Sustaining NIH Funding

Efforts to sustain funding for vital federal agencies that support mesothelioma research continue here at the Meso Foundation.  The Meso Foundation has been vigilant in our advocacy for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which houses the National Cancer Institute.  The NIH supports many of the brilliant researchers dedicated to caring for our patients and finding a cure for mesothelioma.

The Meso Foundation has joined the national coalition of organizations called the Ad-Hoc Group for Medical Research which uses their collective voice to advocate for increased funding for medical research through the NIH.  For Fiscal Year 2012, the Coalition has requested a funding level of $35 billion for the National Institutes of Health.  This funding is essential to find a cure for meso!

For more information on the Medical Research Ad-Hoc Group:

Thanks very much to the members of the Meso Community for responding to our request to sign the online petition asking Congress not to cut funding for research funded by the NIH. As of April 1, the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research on-line petition has garnered over 16,000 signatures.

The petition notes the nation’s health and economic vitality have benefited from the longstanding, bipartisan commitment to NIH-supported medical research at more than 3,000 medical schools, teaching hospitals, universities, and other research institutions in every state. If you have not done so already, the Meso Foundation encourages you to sign the petition, as well as continue to share the petition with other organizations and individuals concerned about the future of NIH funding. The NIH is the umbrella agency for the National Cancer Institute, where many of our meso patients are treated and important research is carried out.  The petition will remain open until the FY 2011 spending measures are resolved.

The petition is available at:

For more information: