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CDMRP for Navy Veterans Stricken with Service-Connected Malignant Mesothelioma

Dear Dr. Tornberg:

Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer that exacts a heavy toll on Navy veterans. Of the 4,000 Americans diagnosed with mesothelioma every year, approximately 32% were exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy or while working in naval shipyards. Despite the heavy toll this insidious cancer exacts on Navy servicemen, neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs has a medical research and treatment program for mesothelioma. Unfortunately, the National Cancer Institute continues to grossly under fund mesothelioma research when compared to other cancers.

We are asking for your cooperation in our mission to persuade Congress to create a Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program for Mesothelioma. Congress has created CDMRPs for ovarian, prostate, breast and other cancers which are not necessarily service-connected. From 1992 to 2005, Congress has appropriated over $3.4 billion dollars to the DOD for specific research priorities. The time is long overdue for Congress to recognize the service and sacrifice of the thousands of veterans who either currently suffer from an asbestos-related cancer or are at a substantial risk for contracting same in the future.

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) has united patients, doctors, lawyers and former asbestos manufacturers in the mission to eradicate this terrible disease. We have proposed the creation of a $140 million Mesothelioma Research and Treatment Program, which would fund 10 centers of excellence, establish the Admiral Elmo Zumwalt Registry and the Congressman Bruce Vento Tissue Bank. The program MARF proposed was included in the Ban Asbestos Act (SB 1125), a bill which is pending. There is widespread agreement that the merits of a medical research program for asbestos cancer should be considered separately from the rancorous debate over the need for asbestos civil litigation tort reform.

We would like to discuss our proposal with you. We envision a united front that includes the DVA and the DOD, along with distinguished members of the scientific, medical, business and legal communities. The creation of a federal program for mesothelioma research should not be tied to the success or failure of asbestos compensation reform legislation. With your support, we can attract support from both sides of the aisle, as mesothelioma does not respect party, rank, or title.

For your review, we are attaching a number of memoranda, letters and articles which speak to MARF's history, purpose and our impact within the medical and legal communities. The attachments include aroadmap for curing mesothelioma, a draft of the proposed $140 million research and treatment program, a summary of the grants funded by MARF, an overview of MARF's peer-review funding mechanism, an article that discusses the options for marshalling the resources to fund medical research, and a statement by a Navy veteran afflicted with mesothelioma.

We will be calling you in the next few days to discuss this letter and the next step. We look forward to collaborating with you and your staff.

Sincerely,

Roger G. Worthington
Founding Director

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