Yesterday afternoon I participated in a conference call, which included representatives from most of the major prostate cancer organizations in the United States. Alvin Chin and John Willey who serve as consumer advocates for the Department of Defense Congressionally Directed Medical Research programs (DOD CDMRP) prompted the call. Alvin and John serve specifically on the programmatic review committee that is charged with setting priorities and reviewing the work of the individual peer evaluation committees, (you can learn more about the DOD CDMRP program by searching this blog or by going to their web page.
John and Alvin were charged with making a presentation to summarized the over arching goals held by the prostate cancer community. They quickly realized that the prostate cancer community is split and not organized. Each of the community and national groups work in a vacuum, rarely supporting each other and almost never providing enthusiastic support the other’s programs. It has been clear to many of us that not only is there a lack of support, but there often exists a level of jealously among the different groups. The prostate cancer community, their advocates and educators seem often unable to drop petty issues and concerns and decide to work instead for the betterment of us all.
The goal of the conference call was to start a process of greater cooperation between the groups toward our shared goals. I hope that the individual groups will be able to drop their squabbles and petty competition and move a head to accomplishing what is best for our community.
Skip Lockwood from Project Zero took the lead in organizing this first call. It was decided that the community’s most immediate priority is to obtain a major increase in the prostate cancer research allocation in the DOD CDMRP for fiscal year 2010. The hope is to see the allocation raised to $125 million from the current 2008 allocation of $80 million. If we can accomplish this, it would be a significant change from the flat funding prostate cancer has received over the last five years.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, a few representatives on the call expressed a concern that the DOD was not the priority of their organization, so their level of support is questionable at this time. It is a shame that we all could not agree to make an effort to work on this one project that would clearly help the entire prostate cancer community while not having any sort of negative impact on any of the organizations.
Malecare is committed to continuing to work as a member of this coalition of prostate cancer organizations. We can only hope that in the very near future all of us will be able to rally around the goal of increasing funding for the prostate cancer DOD programs as well as the many other goals that serve the entire community’s best interest.
There was a clear consensus that in the future additional priorities would be identified. It is also clear that many on the conference call today would like to work closely together to identify other key prostate cancer advocacy priorities that we can work on in concerted teams. I will have more to report about this in due course.
Again, thanks to Alvin Chin, John Willey, Skip Lockwood, and others for “jump-starting” this initiative.
Joel T Nowak MA, MSW
Thanks for the great synopsis of the call.
My personal opinion to follow:
One aspect of DoD funding that all advocates should be mindful of is the importance of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP). The projects supported by the Department of Defense are really where the rubber hits the road. They serve to sometimes validate and should always enhance/ inform the work advocates do – absolutely nothing anyone claims to be true in regard to prostate cancer can have legs without the research to support it. A great idea is just a great idea without some form of scientific validation. Like it or not, the DoD has taken up the gauntlet and has done a superb job of creating a program that actively gives back, not just to soldiers and veterans – but to what being a soldier is about… protecting and serving the people of the United States of America. If individual organizations look hard and evaluate the funding opportunities available to researchers through the CDMRP, they might see that many DoD programs have the potential to either directly or indirectly provide the support necessary to bring success to the cause (success being both minimal death and impact on quality of life due to prostate cancer).