Researchers Fight for Mesothelioma Grants

Santa Barbara, C.A. – Requests for grants from the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation have increased eightfold since the first year the organization started offering the stipends to researchers, in 2000. There were 56 funding requests for 2009, up from just seven in 2000. The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is the principal independent source of mesothelioma research funding in the country.
Mesothelioma, a rare but aggressive asbestos cancer caused almost exclusively by exposure to the hazardous fiber asbestos, has often been overshadowed by other, more common diseases. Research funding, therefore, has been lacking in recent years. The lack of research and funding for it, as well as the general lack of awareness about the disease, is what spurred the foundation to begin its grant program. Since beginning its peer-reviewed process in 2000, the foundation has doled out over $6 million in research grants. These grants are all privately funded by the foundation, secured through fundraising efforts and private donations, many of which come from families who have lost a loved one to malignant mesothelioma. In 2007, three $100,000 grants were funded by families of victims. Foundation volunteers Erica and Michael Ruble have set out on a fundraising effort to create the Lance S. Ruble Memorial Grant in the name of their late father. The money for the grant will come entirely from a grassroots letter-writing campaign and private fundraising events which they organized. Chris Hahn, Executive Director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, has been overwhelmed by the response from researchers. “Through nearly a decade of leading the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, I am continuously inspired by the strength and compassion of the mesothelioma community.” Symptoms of mesothelioma can take years or even decades to appear, leading to late-term diagnosis in most cases. Because of this, the disease has typically spread throughout the body by the time it’s discovered, becoming inoperable. Although there is no known cure for mesothelioma, doctors are still able to provide palliative treatment, designed to comfort patients and relieve painful symptoms.