Alissa 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?”