Mesothelioma Research, Advocacy and Volunteer Awards Announced

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The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation announced today its three award recipients who will be honored for their work within the areas of science, advocacy, and volunteerism in the fight to cure mesothelioma.

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Logo

Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation Logo

The Pioneer, Hope Builder, and Volunteer Awards honor individuals who advance Meso Foundation’s mission to eradicate the suffering caused by mesothelioma through science, advocacy, support, and awareness-building.

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) announced today the recipients of its annual awards which will be presented on June 24, 2011 during the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma in Washington, DC.

Every year, the Pioneer, Hope Builder and Volunteer of the Year Awards honor individuals who, through their efforts, advance Meso Foundation’s mission to eradicate the suffering caused by mesothelioma through science, advocacy, support, and awareness-building.

This year’s Pioneer Award recipient is Dr. Raffit Hassan, Senior Investigator and Chief of the Solid Tumor Immunotherapy Section in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and former Chair of the Meso Foundation’s Science Advisory Board. Dr. Hassan is receiving this award for his exceptional work on targeting mesothelin, a protein highly expressed in mesothelioma, for the treatment of patients with mesothelioma. Dr. Hassan’s research, which had begun in the laboratory while he was a fellow at the NCI, has now developed into two successful clinical trials with a third one about to open, providing mesothelioma patients with the potential of much-needed new treatment options. The Meso Foundation also wishes to thank Dr. Hassan for the remarkable leadership in his role as Chair of the Meso Foundation’s Science Advisory Board. Dr. Hassan, whose term ended in December of 2010, has been instrumental in ensuring a rigorous peer review process to facilitate the funding of the most promising mesothelioma research.

Every year, the Volunteer of the Year Award honors an individual who has devotedly volunteered their talent, time, and resources and who, through active community participation, fundraising, awareness-building and advocacy, has advanced the mission of the Meso Foundation. Larry Davis, a dedicated Meso Foundation volunteer and mesothelioma patient, is the recipient of the 2011 Volunteer of the Year. Mr. Davis, an avid runner, whose passion and determination have been an inspiration for many, has made it his mission to find effective treatments and to cure mesothelioma. In his home state of Florida, he is known for organizing a sanctioned 8K race benefiting the Meso Foundation and its mesothelioma grant research program and raising much-needed awareness of this disease. Politicians, journalists, business people, doctors, and anyone else in the position to be helpful in the fight against mesothelioma has likely received an email or phone call from Mr. Davis with a request for help. Through his outreach, Mr. Davis has secured national media coverage of the Meso Foundation and its mission, and has promoted the critical need for research.

Linda Reinstein, co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is this year’s recipient of the Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award, named after former Congressman Bruce Vento, who lost his battle with mesothelioma in 2000. Ms. Reinstein, who in 2006 lost her husband Alan to mesothelioma, has been at the forefront of national and international advocacy efforts to ban asbestos, the substance known to cause mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, which has not yet been banned in the United States. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation recognizes that increased awareness of asbestos and ultimately a ban, play an important role in the fight to eradicate mesothelioma. Specifically, a ban on asbestos paired with Meso Foundation’s independent peer review research program, which is aimed at improving medical treatments and developing a cure, are essential elements in ending suffering caused by this insidious disease.

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. Approximately 3,000 Americans are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year.

The Meso Foundation is the leading organization dedicated to funding peer-reviewed mesothelioma research, providing patient support services and education, and advocating for increased federal funding for research. Mesothelioma funding, per death, has historically been extremely low, and even as recently as 2007, the NCI reported that mesothelioma receives as little as 9 times less funding than other cancers. The Meso Foundation was founded in 2000 to address this imbalance and since then has funded over $7.1 million in peer-reviewed mesothelioma research.

The Foundation hosts an annual conference, the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, which unites doctors, researchers, patients and families, legal advocates, union representatives, and other affected and concerned individuals, to share information and advance mesothelioma research. The 2011 Symposium will take place June 23-25 in Washington, DC. For more information, please visit

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