Insulators Union and Mesothelioma Research Organization Partner to Fund Scholarship

Share Article

In an effort to promote mesothelioma research early in the investigators’ careers, the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators, funded a Notre Dame student’s internship at the prestigious University of Chicago Medicine’s mesothelioma program, led by Dr. Hedy Kindler.

Alissa Bahr, a student at the University of Notre Dame, is this year’s recipient of this special funding provided by the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (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 Mesothelioma Applied Research 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?”

Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor of the lining of the lung, abdomen, or heart known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Medical experts consider it one of the most aggressive and deadly of all cancers. An estimated one-third of those who develop mesothelioma were exposed while serving in the Navy or working in shipyards.

The Meso Foundation is the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to eradicating mesothelioma and easing the suffering caused by this cancer. 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 effective treatments for mesothelioma and, ultimately, a cure for this extremely aggressive cancer. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $9 million to research. More information is available at

The International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers (HFIAW) was established in 1903 and is over 110 years old. In 2007, the union removed the words “Asbestos Workers” from its name and replaced them with “Allied Workers.” Its members have worked to conserve energy and help reduce the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The International Union has 86 Local Unions in the United States and 9 Local Unions in Canada, with approximately 25,000 highly skilled workers who work for 1,200 signatory contractors. All the members in the United States have completed an extensive Apprentice Training Program that includes up-to- date Health & Safety Training and is certified by the Bureau of Apprentice Training and the U.S. Department of Labor. The International Union’s signatory contractors, and its members whom they employ, perform work in nuclear and coal-burning powerhouses, refineries, steel mills, water treatment facilities, factories, auto plants, airports, office buildings, schools, and hospitals, to name a few. For more information about HFIAW, visit

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Maja Belamaric
Follow us on
Visit website