Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD

Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, professor of Medicine and Pathology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and CEO of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) is this year’s recipient of the Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award, named for the late Minnesota Congressman who died from mesothelioma in 2000.

The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation presents the award annually to thought-leaders and allies who have substantially contributed to the advancement of mesothelioma research, treatment, care, support, education, and advocacy. The award will be presented during the International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma, on March 27, in Bethesda, MD.

Dr. Fred Hirsch is the CEO of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), the only global organization dedicated to the study of lung cancer. Founded in 1974, the association’s membership includes more than 5,000 lung cancer specialists in over 100 countries. IASLC members work to enhance the understanding of lung cancer among scientists, members of the medical community and the public. IASLC is the publisher of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO), a valuable resource for medical specialists and scientists who focus on the detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of thoracic cancers.

Moved by the tremendous obstacles facing patients as they seek effective treatments, as well as researchers focused on advancing life-saving science, Dr. Hirsch has been instrumental in prioritizing and elevating mesothelioma research within IASLC and its membership. Under Dr. Hirsch’s leadership, there has been a noticeable increase in mesothelioma topics covered in the IASLC newsletter, as well as an increase in invited peer-reviewed articles for JTO. Moreover, Dr. Hirsch is the leading figure behind a newly formed task force commissioned by the NCI to, together with IASLC and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, evaluate most recent data and, with those results in mind, propose clinical trials for the most promising agents. The task force, also known as the Clinical Trials Planning Meeting, will convene world experts in mesothelioma immediately following the Foundation’s International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma.

“The magnitude of reach of an organization with the reputation and size of IASLC, joining forces with the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation to promote mesothelioma research, will without question speed up advances in the treatment of this disease,” said Mary Hesdorffer, the executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

“We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Hirsch for his interest in mesothelioma research. With a five-year survival of less than 10 percent, mesothelioma patients need to know that better treatments are just around the corner. This task force gives us exactly that kind of hope and that’s why we are proud to award Dr. Hirsch with the Bruce Vento Hope Builder Award,” said Melinda Kotzian, the chief executive officer of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.

Mesothelioma is a malignant tumor of the lining of the lung, abdomen, or heart known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. With the life expectancy of less than one year after diagnosis, medical experts consider it one of the most aggressive and deadly of all cancers. An estimated one-third of those who develop mesothelioma were exposed while serving in the Navy or working in shipyards. Currently, few treatment options exist. There is no cure.