I am once again a peer reviewer for the CDMRP (Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs); specifically those pertaining to lung cancer. And yes, this part of the government is apparently still up and running even as ClinicalTrials.gov limps along with partial staff and a disclaimer; (which I swear got a little more upbeat as the week went on) they will update information as best they can. It’s an unnerving time for those of us who rely on clinical trials for survival, and according to this article in WIRED (thanks Janet!), the immediate impact extends beyond enrollment, as research itself is put on hold and sometimes (un)necessarily scuttled.
It is a daunting task, this peer reviewer stuff, and if I ever say yes again, I hope someone who cares will slap me. I say the same thing when I am holding a bag of cheetos—if I reach in one more time, take it from me and slap me. Some time back, Peter slapped me after my first bite. ‘What the hell?’ I asked—I guess the day before I had made my characteristic statement and I suppose he felt it still stood.
Anyway, I feel as if I’m making a small but important contribution, and perhaps in the process I will also expand my own understanding of lung cancer (get smarter). However, the amount of research I need to do just to understand the basic concepts in some of these proposals makes my brain feel like pudding, as well as underscoring the fact that I majored in art, not science.
About that image at the top. I ran into it while doing some of my research—I think I was looking for pie charts with the break-down of genetic mutations in NSCLC. As I scrolled down the page, I started noticing images of my lungs. And a little picture of me….and my grapefruit too.
I don’t know if I can explain how I felt, but it made me kind of weepy. I mean, here I am researching lung cancer and part of what I find is little anonymous pieces of me. More underscoring; I really do have this damned disease—and my connection to the subject I am researching is intensely personal. But then again, not….with 220,000 new cases in the US annually, I’m hardly alone. One piece in a really big puzzle; a puzzle I hope we someday solve.
But not if I don’t get back to work…..