Meso Foundation Congratulates Dr. Krug on his New Position

Dr. Lee KrugThe Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation would like to congratulate Dr. Lee M. Krug on his new position with Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), which he will be starting in August. He will be joining BMS as the Immuno-oncology Disease Head for Thoracic and GI Malignancies.

Dr. Krug will be leaving his position as an Associate Attending Physician in the Division of Thoracic Oncology, Department of Medicine at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York.

“I promise to remain committed to the foundation and the search for the cure for mesothelioma,” said Dr. Krug.

Dr. Krug has investigated multimodality mesothelioma treatment approaches for patients with early stage malignant pleural mesothelioma. He led a multicenter U.S. trial of induction chemotherapy before extrapleural pneumonectomy, and he has a current study testing the feasibility of chemotherapy followed by pleural radiation. Dr. Krug also has a strong interest in novel therapeutics for patients with more advanced disease. He conducted a phase I trial with a WT-1 peptide vaccine, and he was awarded a grant from the Department of Defense to conduct a randomized phase II trial with this vaccine. He is also the principal investigator of an international, phase III trial of a histone deacetylase inhibitor, vorinostat. Dr. Krug led the committee for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) that established treatment guidelines for mesothelioma.

“Dr. Krug has an unwavering dedication to the mesothelioma field, and I am excited to see what new insight he will bring to the field with his new position at BMS,” stated Melinda Kotzian, Chief Executive Officer at the Meso Foundation.

We congratulate Dr. Krug and wish him the best in his new position.

Updates from ASCO: CRS-207 Vaccine Study Results

MicroscopeAduro BioTech is conducting a clinical trial to test an investigational new immunotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). This therapy, called CRS-207, is given to a patient in combination with chemotherapy in hopes of encouraging the body’s normal defense mechanisms to fight off the cancer. This trial aims to enroll up to 60 patients at 5 U.S. clinical sites. The company presented data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference this week showing that of the 32 patients with MPM treated with CRS-207 and chemotherapy, MPM tumors reduced in size for 19 patients, and tumors remained the same size (stable) in an additional 11 patients. CRS-207 is given prior to and after chemotherapy (cyclophosphamide, pemetrexed and cisplatin) for patients who have not received prior treatment or surgery for their disease.

If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial for this investigational new therapy, please click here.

The 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting, one of the largest oncology meetings of the year, was held from May 29 to June 2 in Chicago, Illinois. The Meso Foundation will be providing more information on studies presented at ASCO in the coming weeks.

Meso Foundation Partners with Insulators Union to Fund Scholarship

Alissa BahrAlissa Bahr, a student at the University of Notre Dame, is this year’s recipient of special funding provided by the Meso Foundation and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators (Insulators), for a summer internship at the University of Chicago Medicine. She will be mentored by Drs. Kindler and Salgia, with whom she will work on research and in a clinic setting.

Ms. Bahr is a student at the University of Notre Dame. Her interest in mesothelioma research began last year when she became the recipient of the very first James A. Grogan Fellowship for Excellence. Ms. Bahr has already interned with Dr. Kindler last summer, when she was given the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the program.

“Last summer, I worked on a completely retrospective study, the goal of which was to look at the demographics, genetic data, and treatment response of 56 mesothelioma patients treated by Dr. Kindler,” said Ms. Bahr.

This summer, she will be returning with the goal of transferring the applications of the previous study into a laboratory project, studying the biological effect of different genetic mutations on tissue growth and tumor development. This particular internship, and the guidance she received from Drs. Kindler and Salgia, has solidified Ms. Bahr’s interest in medicine and mesothelioma research.

“I am blessed to have the support of the Meso Foundation and the Insulators Union,” she added.

Ms. Bahr also feels profoundly grateful for this experience because it has allowed her to meet “the best mentor a student could ask for – Dr. Kindler.”

For Dr. Kindler and her team, the feeling is mutual.

“It was such a joy to work with Alissa last summer. She was enthusiastic, energetic, very bright, and eager to learn as much as she could. We are so delighted to have her back with us,” said Dr. Kindler.

The Meso Foundation has been the leader in independent peer-reviewed funding for mesothelioma research. Part of the Foundation’s mission is rooted in providing incentives for young researchers to study mesothelioma. Since awarding its first research grant in 2000, the Meso Foundation has funded over 94 mesothelioma-related projects to date, amounting to more than $9 million.

The insulators, with one in ten of their workers affected by asbestos-related diseases, are at an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. In addition to providing financial support of research, education, patient support, and advocacy, the Insulators have recently founded a tissue bank to collect tissues and/or blood serum from volunteer insulators which is a crucial tool for scientists devoted to mesothelioma research. President Grogan has been a loyal ally and powerful advocate for the meso community, and in 2015, he received the Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award for his work. His explanation of why advancing mesothelioma research is important to the Insulators is as simple as it is powerful.

“If we don’t do this, who will?”

LISTEN: Meet the Mesothelioma Experts Interview with Drs. Simone and Alley Now Available

Penn MedicineOn Thursday, May 14, the Meso Foundation interviewed Dr. Charles Simone and Dr. Evan Alley of the University of Pennsylvania Medicine during the Meet the Mesothelioma Experts series. The session was part of a series of interviews focusing on mesothelioma centers of excellence. Drs. Simone and Alley were interviewed by the Meso Foundation’s executive director, Mary Hesdorffer, with whom they discussed the mesothelioma program at the University of Pennsylvania Medicine.

The full interview is now available on demand on the Meso Foundation’s website at

Drs. Alley and Simone are the co-directors of the Penn Mesothelioma and Pleural Program. Dr. Alley is a medical oncologist and is the leading investigator in the PD-1 inhibitor trial that has recently made big news in mesothelioma. Read more about the trial here. Dr. Simone treats patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma with photon and proton radiation therapy and photodynamic therapy (PDT). He is a National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense funded investigator who performs clinical and translational research investigating the novel use of proton therapy and PDT as definitive therapy and as part of multi-modality therapy for mesothelioma.

As part of the Meet the Mesothelioma Experts series, the Meso Foundation invites specialists in the field of mesothelioma to discuss their current research interests as well as promising developments in the treatment of mesothelioma.

You can listen to this interview and other previous Meet the Mesothelioma Experts sessions at

Study Shows Bevacizumab Improves Survival in Mesothelioma

VaccineA Phase 3 French study, which will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)’s annual meeting at the end of May, demonstrated improved survival rates for those patients who received bevacizumab in addition to the current standard chemotherapy regimen of pemetrexed/cisplatin. Bevacizumab (Avastin® Genentech, Inc.) is an antibody that blocks angiogenesis (blood vessel growth), and it is already routinely used to treat many other cancers, including lung cancer and colon cancer.

“The mesothelioma community has been waiting for this kind of news for a long time—it is the first positive phase III trial in mesothelioma since the original study of pemetrexed/cisplatin over 10 years ago,” said Dr. Lee M. Krug of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and chair of the board of directors of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

“The addition of bevacizumab has the potential to become a new standard of care for first-line therapy in this disease,” he added.

The study, conducted between 2008 and 2014, included 448 patients treated in 73 centers. The patients were randomized into two arms– one received standard chemotherapy (pemetrexed and cisplatin) and the other received standard chemotherapy plus bevacizumab. Overall survival was significantly longer in the experimental arm (median: 18.8 months vs. 16.1 months). The study concluded that adding bevacizumab in addition to pemetrexed/cisplatin provides a significantly longer survival in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma, with acceptable toxicity, making this triplet a new treatment paradigm.