Last week, on June 6, 2012, Mary Hesdorffer, MS, APRN, nurse practitioner and medical liaison for the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, appeared before the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations – Subcommittee on Defense, at their Fiscal Year 2013 Appropriations Outside Witness Testimony Hearing. Speaking with the voice of the Meso Foundation and its community, Mary made an appeal to the lawmakers for their attention concerning mesothelioma and its impact on those who served to defend the United States.
The Meso Foundation played a critical role in making peritoneal mesothelioma and pleural mesothelioma eligible topics within the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program. The first ever DoD award for mesothelioma occurred in 2008 when one investigator obtained over $1.3 million for research. A total of $7.7 million has been awarded to mesothelioma research through the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program and the Peer Reviewed Cancer Research Program, both divisions of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, which is administered by the Department of Defense since Fiscal Year 2008.
In her testimony, Mary explained the need for sustained and increased funding for mesothelioma research through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program, and stressed the strong link between mesothelioma and military service. “Mesothelioma is directly related to asbestos exposure,” Mary stated before the Appropriations Committee, “and out of the over 3500 patients a year diagnosed with mesothelioma, about one-third can be directly related to either active Navy duty or working in shipyards.” She asked that a dedicated funding stream of $5 million be appropriated for mesothelioma through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, because mesothelioma disproportionally affects American servicemen and women, and their families. “We are asking the Senate Committee to recognize the need for mesothelioma research, and the Senate to take this on as a critical, national priority.” Stressing the immediate need for increased research funding, Mary added, “mesothelioma patients who already risked their lives by serving in our nation’s armed services do not have the time to wait.”
The Defense Subcommittee will be crafting the Defense Appropriations bill for the fiscal year 2013 in the next month, hopefully before the August Congressional recess. Mary’s testimony can be seen here: