The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (Meso Foundation) presented its annual Awards Program virtually this year on Facebook Live, recognizing four individuals who were to have received their awards in person during the 2020 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma before it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The awards recognize people and organizations who through their work have helped advance the mission of the Foundation to eradicate mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Recipients of the 2020 Awards Program include Dr. Michael Becich, Heather Von St. James, and Jack and Ellen Brown.
- Pioneer Award
Dr. Becich received the Pioneer Award, an honor that is given to individuals who are pioneering scientific advances in mesothelioma research. Dr. Becich, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Infomatics in the health and sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, established the National Mesothelioma Virtual Tissue Bank (NMVB), the only national tissue and data repository exclusively dedicated to mesothelioma. He has been a strong advocate for mesothelioma research, investigating clinical phenotyping of patients for genomic/personalized medicine, tissue banking infomatics, clinical infomatics, and bioinformatics with a special emphasis on data sharing.
- Bruce Vento Hope-Builder Award
Heather Von St. James received the Bruce Vento Hope-Builder Award for her work in creating hope for mesothelioma patients and their loved ones through advocacy. Von St. James is a 14-year mesothelioma survivor and ardent advocate for the mesothelioma community. She also serves as founding co-chair of the Community Advisory Board along with Katie Jamieson. Von St. James has regularly shared her experience with mesothelioma. In 2007, to mark the first anniversary of her lung removal, she started a fundraiser she calls “Lung Leavin’ Day,” which raises funds to help patients cover travel costs related to treatment or consultation with mesothelioma specialists. The fundraiser has raised more than $40,000 to date.
- Klaus Brauch Above and Beyond Award
Jack and Ellen Brown were the recipients of the Klaus Brauch Above and Beyond Award, an award named after the Meso Foundation’s first volunteer. The award recognizes engaged and exemplary individuals who have worked to advance the mission of the foundation through fundraising, advocacy, awareness, and/or education. The Browns organize “The Em’ for Emily” event in Greer, South Carolina, to honor their daughter, Emily Brown Kocis, who died from peritoneal mesothelioma in January 2017 at the age of 28. The week-long fundraiser takes place during September (Mesothelioma Awareness Day is Sept. 26) and has raised $65,000 for mesothelioma research and the Meso Foundation’s Patient Travel Grant Program.
The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation is the only nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to ending mesothelioma, and the suffering caused by this cancer, by funding research to improve treatment options, providing treatment support and education for patients and their families, and advocating for federal funding of research. For more information or to get involved, visit the organization online at curemeso.org.
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of internal organs. There are four types of mesothelioma, with some being more common than others. Pleural mesothelioma affects the pleura, or lining that coats the lungs. This type of mesothelioma accounts for about 75% of all cases of mesothelioma. Peritoneal mesothelioma involves the peritoneum, which lines the inside of the abdomen and many of the abdominal organs. About 25% of mesothelioma diagnoses are peritoneal mesothelioma. Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the lining around the heart and is extremely rare. About 1% of mesotheliomas are pericardial mesothelioma. Tunica vaginalis mesothelioma, also referred to as testicular mesothelioma, affects the sac surrounding the testicles. It is also extremely rare. All are caused by asbestos exposure.
Beasley Allen lawyers handle mesothelioma claims. They are looking at cases of industrial, occupational and secondary asbestos exposure resulting in lung cancer or mesothelioma as well as claims of asbestos-related talc products linked to mesothelioma. Charlie Stern in our Toxic Torts Section is the lead attorney working on these types of cases. As an experienced mesothelioma lawyer, Charlie is well equipped to tackle asbestos cases, which are highly complicated and require someone with a true understanding of the facts, medical issues, science and law. He is working together with Will Sutton, an experienced lawyer in our Toxic Torts Section. Contact us for more information.