Regional Conference on Malignant Mesothelioma: Destination New York

NewYorkSkyline

All of us at the Meso Foundation have been very aware of the need mesothelioma patients and families have to connect with others facing similar challenges, and learn about their disease and its treatment options.

For this reason, for the second consecutive year, we are organizing a regional conference taking place in New York City.

On Friday, September 27, at 9 AM, please join us at the Harvard Club for this one-day conference on malignant mesothelioma for patients, their families, doctors, and others wishing to learn more about this disease. The conference is supported by an educational grant from Levy Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP.

We put together an impressive line-up of mesothelioma experts from the New York area who will discuss topics including standard treatments, ongoing research, environmental/occupational exposure risk, and legal implications. Read the agenda here. 


Register

You can watch below our last year’s conference:

The cost to register is $25 per person (includes all sessions, breakfast and lunch). You may register by visiting curemeso.org/knowledge or by calling the Meso Foundation at (703) 879-3797. Registration fees will be donated back to the Meso Foundation. Availability is limited. You must register before our deadline of September 10.

If you are traveling to the conference and need a hotel room, we put together a list of hotels available nearby. Due to the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting taking place around the same time as our conference, the hotels near the Harvard Club and throughout New York City could be very expensive, so make sure you book early.

Why Two Talking Heads are Better than One

By Mary, Hesdorffer, NP, Executive Director
Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

By now, many of you have seen the announcement that Melinda Kotzian has been promoted to CEO. Last week, following our very first announcement of this excellent news, I received a few quizzical emails expressing concern at the change in leadership of the Foundation.

I would like to set your minds at ease that this is not a change in leadership but recognition of a strong partnership that has been in place and continued to develop when I assumed the role of Executive Director.

I believe that to be a strong leader one must recognize their own strengths and weaknesses. I accepted this position with the caveat that Melinda would be my equal partner, utilizing her years of experience in the world of nonprofits, thus freeing me up to continue my work with the medical and mesothelioma communities.

Mary and Melinda working side by side during a recent meeting.

Mary and Melinda working side by side during a recent meeting.

Thanks to Melinda’s solid grasp of the business side of the Foundation, my role is now stronger than ever as I continue to focus on the medical and scientific areas of the organization, while simultaneously expanding our network of relationships. Melinda and I have been able to problem solve easily, both recognizing each other’s expertise, and have managed to reach consensus amicably and with both good humor and shared vision. We are more alike than different and I have felt very fortunate to have Melinda at my side. Her promotion was a recognition well deserved for her often behind-the-scenes expertise that is crucial to the future of the organization. I expect that you will continue to see changes at the Foundation in our staff and program levels but this is to keep the momentum going in addressing the growing needs of the organization. Please join me in congratulating Melinda on her promotion and sharing in our joint vision for the future of the Foundation.

The Journey of a Mesothelioma Research Study

When patients and their families need help following a diagnosis or throughout treatment, the Meso Foundation is there for them – day or night.

Researcher

But getting patients and their families through the immediate treatment is only one side of tackling this disease. At the Meso Foundation, we believe that research into new treatments is fundamental to eradicating mesothelioma and the suffering caused by it. In fact, our mission statement emphasizes that the Foundation must “fund the highest quality and most promising meso research projects from around the world through rigorous peer review.”

Yesterday, the Meso Foundation released the important news that, this year, researchers from across the world submitted 48 proposals for funding (22 applications were from international applicants). In the next week, we will divide the number of submitted proposals among our Science Advisory Board (SAB) members and assign approximately 7 to 10 proposals to each reviewer, and 2 to 3 reviewers to each proposal.

Our SAB is made up of scientists and doctors from around the world, who have devoted their lifework to researching mesothelioma, making them the peers of our applicants, thus making our review a peer review.

We placed the adjective “rigorous” into the sentence describing our peer review, because it truly is.  The review process consists of scoring and critiquing each and every application submitted. Below are a few examples of the detailed questions each reviewer is asked when reviewing a proposal.

  • Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field?
  • How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?
  • Are the PD/PIs, collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project?
  • Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions?
  • Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project?
  • Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success?

The reviewers must then score each proposal according to these questions, on a scale of 9 to 1, with 1 being the highest possible score. In September, these scores will be collected and the proposals ranked accordingly. Only the top half of the total number of proposals will pass this stage and move to the next, where they will be scrutinized further in depth.

At this point, we select SAB members who are experts in the fields of those applicants whose projects have advanced. This ensures that the proposals are evaluated by someone who can speak to the plausibility and soundness of the hypothesis submitted, which, in turn, ensures that our funding be awarded to the most promising projects.

Following the second round, the proposals are once again scored and ranked. Based on this line-up, each remaining application is opened for discussion by the entire SAB. We hold a conference-call in November to facilitate this discussion and we come away with a solid list of top 10 projects. This list is presented in January to the Board of Directors, which selects proposals for funding. This decision is based on the critiques and ranking received from the SAB, and the financial capability of the Foundation.

At the end of this process, an approved application will have moved through three review cycles, be assessed by no less than 6 SAB members, be scrutinized by at least one expert within its specific field, and approved by the two governing bodies of the organization.

This is, no doubt, a relatively long and labor-intensive process, but it is a necessary one to make sure that the limited funds available for research are spent responsibly only on the most promising and the highest quality studies. As a nonprofit organization, we have an obligation to our patients, constituents and donors to make the most of their donations and support, and with this review model, we believe to fulfill and exceed all expectations.

PRESS RELEASE: Same Leaders, New Leadership Structure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2013
 
Contact:
Maja Belamaric
Phone: (703) 879-3822
mbelamaric@curemeso.org
www.curemeso.org 

Same Leaders, New Leadership Structure

The Meso Foundation has a new leadership structure. Mary Hesdorffer, NP and Melinda Kotzian have been sharing leadership responsibilities since August of 2012, with Ms. Hesdorffer focusing on research and science activities and Ms. Kotzian focusing on the business side of the organization.

Effective immediately, Melinda Kotzian, who has thus far been the Chief Operating Officer, will now serve as the Foundation’s first Chief Executive Officer. This change in title provides Ms. Kotzian with full authority to act as an officer of the Foundation. Despite this change in title, the actual leadership structure will not change. Ms. Hesdorffer and Ms. Kotzian will continue sharing executive duties as they have been for the past year.

“I’m thrilled that Melinda’s title is finally in sync with her responsibilities,” said Mary Hesdorffer, NP, Meso Foundation’s executive director. “She has been working hard on behalf of the Foundation and this change will help her do even more,” she added.

Melinda Kotzian has been with the Meso Foundation since 2010. Prior to working at the Meso Foundation, she was at the Naomi and Nehemiah Cohen Foundation , a small family foundation in the Washington, DC area which works on issues of social justice and helping those in need. Ms. Kotzian is a member of the Grants Management Network, Center for Nonprofit Advancement and the Nonprofit Professionals Network DC.

ABOUT THE MESOTHELIOMA APPLIED RESEARCH FOUNDATION
The Meso Foundation is the only 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and easing the suffering caused by it. The Meso Foundation actively seeks philanthropic support to fund peer-reviewed mesothelioma research; provide patient support services and education; and advocate Congress for increased federal funding for mesothelioma research. The Meso Foundation is the only non-government funder of peer reviewed scientific research to establish more effective treatments for mesothelioma and, ultimately, a cure for this rare, but extremely aggressive, cancer. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $8.2 million to research.

More information is available at www.curemeso.org.

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