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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Mesothelioma Expert Mary Hesdorffer Advocates Before British Parliament

Mary at Parliament

Mary Hesdorffer, NP with Laurie Kazan-Allen, Dan Sterman, MD, and Jim Sheridan in front of the UK Parliament.

Meso Foundation’s executive director, Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner, is in London and wanted to share with you that she just spoke at the annual asbestos seminar of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health in the House of Commons.  Her talk entitled, Mobilizing for a Mesothelioma Cure, stresses how funding research is the key to eliminating mesothelioma.

“I am thrilled to be able to represent the Meso Foundation and the role that it has in funding the most promising peer-reviewed research from around the globe,” said Mary. The Meso Foundation has funded researchers in the United Kingdom and six other countries because we believe that it is necessary to collaborate in order to find a cure for mesothelioma.

Join our cause in the fight against mesothelioma. Learn more about how you can get involved.

Notes from Mary Hesdorffer, Executive Director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation

mary1The past four months have rapidly flown by and I had hoped to correspond with you more often and in greater detail since assuming my new role. I am enjoying this position and I must confess it has its challenges, but each day, with the assistance of the Foundation’s talented staff, we make progress and work toward fulfilling our mission. Our mission statement is posted online and was crafted with the input of board and staff. We feel that we have clearly stated the objectives of the organization and are anxious to hear what your thoughts about the direction of the Foundation. I have scheduled a town hall meeting for next week as I have not had an opportunity to thank many of our supporters and to hear their viewpoints on the mission of the Foundation and how it is meeting their current needs.

Right now my focus is on the peer-reviewed grants program. I meet with the Board of Directors (BOD) on Thursday night for a decision on the number of grants to fund. As you may recall, the Foundation administers a robust peer-reviewed research grants program which is one of the major focuses of our Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Please view the bios of this talented group of scientists who review the grants in great detail in a process based upon the system used by our National Institute of Health. Why such a laborious process? Simple – without a strong scientific review, and oversight following funding, your research dollars would have little value. We ensure that each dollar donated to our research program is treated with respect and good faith that it will be used as intended, with oversight and transparency. The SAB recommends the grants that are worthy of funding and the BOD has the fiscal responsibility to allocate budgeted funds for this purpose. I want to personally thank Dr. Lee Krug, Chair of our SAB for leading the process and keeping us informed of progress of the grant review. His strong leadership and scientific knowledge guided this rigorous process.

It is with great excitement that I await Thursday’s meeting and we will share this news with the community quickly and with great enthusiasm.

TOWN HALL MEETING
WHAT: Town hall meeting (conducted via conference call)
WHEN: 8:00 p.m. EST Wed. Jan. 23rd
WHO: Everyone is invited
WHY: To discuss Foundation updates and its programs and to allow for question/answer with executive director
WHERE/HOW: Conference call in number: (605) 475-4000
Participant Access Code: 216145

REMINDER: Support Group Tonight — CAREGIVERS

For those of you new to the Meso Foundation blog, we offer many resources here ranging from Social Media Moments to updates from Capitol Hill to success stories from the front lines of fundraising. Beyond our blog, though, we also offer a wide variety of resources on our website — CureMeso.org. Alongside podcasts, an Advocacy Ambassador program, and answers to your questions on mesothelioma, we also offer support groups, hosted by our Nurse Practitioner, Mary Hesdorffer. We understand the mesothelioma experience can often feel daunting and isolating which is why, every two weeks, we offer telephonic groups where people gather, talk, and listen.

Tonight’s group is a Caregivers Group, meeting at 7:30 p.m. If you wish to register and join a group, please contact Mary at mhesdorffer@curemeso.org or call the Foundation at (877) 363-6376 or consult our website for details.

We hope to talk to you soon.

FROM THE MESOTHELIOMA APPLIED RESEARCH FOUNDATION’S “MEET THE EXPERTS” SERIES: Introducing a New Clinical Trial with Dr. Julie Brahmer

Tonight, as part of the “Meet the Experts” podcasts presented exclusively by the Meso Foundation, Dr. Julie Brahmer, Associate Professor of Oncology at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital, sat down with Mary Hesdorffer, Nurse Practitioner and Medical Liaison for the Meso Foundation, to discuss her new trial targeting pleural mesothelioma. In her talk “NGR-hTTNF: A New Multi-Center Drug Trial for Pleural Mesothelioma”, Dr. Brahmer discussed a new chemotherapy treatment, designed specifically for pleural mesothelioma patients.

To participate in the trial, one prior treatment regimen is required (for example Alimta and Cisplatin) which usually consists of 4 to 6 treatments. The NGR-hTTNF trial can then be offered in the second line setting. Patients will receive an active chemotherapy agent, and plus or minus the experimental drug NGR-hTTNF. This trial is available worldwide. In the United States, it can be obtained at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as a few others sites in Texas, California, and New York. According to Dr. Brahmer, it consists of a weekly treatment, with the most common side effects resulting in fatigue, nausea, headaches, and generalized weakness. The enrollment process into the NGR-hTTNF trial begins with an appointment with an investigator in trial.

The investigator reviews whether or not the patient is eligible based on treatments already received, the patient’s stage of mesothelioma, and his or her general physical well-being. Following this appointment, the patient must sign the consent form, after which eligibility is finalized through a few additional tests. If patients have responded positively or remain stable, chemotherapy will be discontinued after six cycles and patients will be extended an opportunity to receive NGR-hTTNF as a maintenance therapy. The primary end point of this trial will be to extend survival rates with secondary endpoints of improving quality of life and diminished symptoms of mesothelioma.

Having just returned from the annual Annual Meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference in Chicago, IL, where another expert from our “Meet the Experts” series — Dr. Lee M. Krug — gave his own summary of the event, Dr. Brahmer feels optimistic and excited about possibilities ahead. “I think a lot of the things we’re learning in lung cancer research may affect patients with mesothelioma,” she states. “There are some therapies being developed that stimulate the immune system, and I hope those types of drugs will have some type of role in combatting mesothelioma, as well.”

Dr. Brahmer’s research and clinical practice focuses on the development of new therapies for the treatment and prevention of lung cancer and mesothelioma. Dr. Brahmer has published several papers in this area of research and is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Thoracic Committee and Cancer Prevention Steering Committee. She is one of the founding Board members for the National Lung Cancer Partnership (formerly Women Against Lung Cancer). Within the National Lung Cancer Partnership she currently serves as a member and the Chairman of the Scientific Executive Committee. She serves on the medical advisory board of the Lung Cancer Research Fund and is a former member of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s Science Advisory Board.

More information about this trial is available at the Meso Foundation by emailing mary@curemeso.org or by calling (703) 879-3820. If you missed tonight’s “Meet the Experts” presentation, you can replay Dr. Brahmer’s talk and find out more about our other mesothelioma research resources at curemeso.org.