Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Glass Half Full

FasterCures has been helping to incubate a new disease research entity – the Melanoma Research Alliance. The Web site went up recently (www.melanomaresearchalliance.org) and the first funding RFP is out (details can be found on the Web site). We took lessons learned from the experience of the Prostate Cancer Foundation and other disease research groups, and shortened the number of pages for the funding proposal, condensed the review turnaround time, and we will send grant award notifications out in spring.

By coincidence, I had a routine appointment with my dermatologist right after our State of Melanoma Research Call to Action meeting in November. When I mentioned to my dermatologist that I’d been part of the process to create this new melanoma entity, he replied that we already know all about melanoma but of course new funds for research were always a good thing.

More money can help, but that being said, this non-scientist would posit that we don’t have all of the answers. The American Cancer Society estimates almost 60,000 people in the United States were diagnosed in 2007. Additionally, 15 percent of those with metastatic melanoma will live for five years. It got better, or worse. When I asked if I should be getting a full body check since I’d been a lifeguard through my teenage years and spent most waking moments poolside, the reply was “sure, that is a good idea.” Hmm, I thought it would be a good thing if it hadn’t been my idea, but at any rate, I made an appointment. However, even if it is a good idea, detection methods still need to be improved and are currently imprecise.

Certainly knowing one or two more cures than we know now would be a major improvement and would save thousands of lives. It is certainly of concern when the medical profession’s knowledge of what is known and not known is lagging. Much to do. While this story might end on a negative note, I’ll go with the glass half full approach, since I am invigorated by the prospect of what the newly formed Melanoma Research Alliance will be getting done in 2008 for those currently diagnosed with melanoma and those at risk. Here's to getting the research done in a streamlined way, getting results translated into therapies as fast as possible, and getting up-to-date information to clinicians who are on the front lines.

Margaret Anderson, COO, FasterCures

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