January 3, 2014 – Earlier this year, mesothelioma researchers suffered a devastating blow when the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) eliminated over $1 million in federal grant money previously designated for mesothelioma research.
One important recipient of the federal funds has been the National Mesothelioma Virtual Tissue Bank (NMVTB), the nation’s only federally funded mesothelioma research program. In its seventh year of operation, the Tissue Bank coordinates worldwide mesothelioma research with the assistance of several institutions including the University of Pittsburgh, New York University, the University of Pennsylvania, Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation. As part of the Tissue Bank’s focus on preventative measures, mesothelioma researchers had access to the Tissue Bank’s thousands of bio specimens and case studies. With the complete elimination of the federal grant money for this year, the future of the National Mesothelioma Virtual Tissue Bank looks grim.
In the immediate aftermath of the federal budget cuts, the Tissue Bank has stopped specimen collection and reduced access to the Tissue Bank. Mesothelioma researchers will now have to pay for access to the Tissue Bank which will inevitably hinder continued research in this area.