Lung cancer survivor and American Lung Association volunteer Denise Zimmerman recently acted as a consumer advocate using her experience and personal journey with lung cancer to participate in the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ (CDMRP), Lung Cancer Research Program (LCRP).
Zimmerman, a Main Line resident, was nominated for participation in the program by the American Lung Association and as a consumer reviewer, was a full voting member (along with prominent scientists) in the evaluation of research applications submitted to the LCRP. She attended meetings to determine how the $14 million appropriated by Congress for Fiscal Year 2020 will be spent on lung cancer research.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in both men and women in the U.S. The American Lung Association launched its LUNG FORCE initiative in 2014 to raise awareness of lung cancer, find new treatment options and better methods of early detection. Zimmerman is a LUNG FORCE Hero and volunteer, working with the Lung Association on lung cancer awareness and fundraising activities. Denise shares her story to inspire everyone to take action to confront this disease that kills one American about every three and half minutes and an estimated 6,460 Pennsylvanians in 2020.
LCRP consumer reviewers are asked to represent the collective view of patients by preparing comments on the impact of the research on issues such as diagnosis, treatment, and the quality of life.
“Serving on the panel was a powerful juncture in my lung cancer journey. Working with researchers and scientists who valued my input in evaluating scientific innovations for diagnosis, treating, and preventing lung cancer was coming full circle for me. As a lung cancer survivor, I am a patient of innovation, and to have the opportunity to communicate my experiences to benefit others is an honor,” said Zimmerman. “I am also thankful to the Lung Association for my nomination and their continued leadership in creating impactful pathways that allow me to share my voice in order to raise awareness and help defeat lung cancer.”
Consumer advocates and scientists have worked together in this unique partnership to evaluate the scientific merit of research applications since FY09. Colonel Stephen J. Dalal, Director of the CDRMP, expressed his appreciation for the consumer advocate’s perspective during the scientific review sessions. “Consumer advocates are an integral part of the CDMRP’s scientific review process. They provide a key ingredient to the review process, the patient’s perspective, which is real and urgent. The collaboration of Consumer advocates alongside the scientists’ subject expertise is a truly unique collaboration that is difficult to find in most medical research programs.”
Scientists applying propose to support and integrate research from multiple disciplines for risk assessment, prevention, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment for the control and cure of lung cancer. The LCRP fills important gaps not addressed by other funding agencies by supporting groundbreaking, high-risk, high-gain research while encouraging out-of-the box thinking.
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy and research. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to champion clean air for all; to improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and to create a tobacco-free future. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the coveted 4-star rating from Charity Navigator and a Gold-Level GuideStar Member, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.