First District Congressman David McKinley

Congress Creates Dedicated $6 Million Pancreatic Cancer Research Program

The pancreatic cancer community, got a wig win when the final fiscal year budget was passed by Congress.  The disease got its own dedicated research program for $6 million through the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP).  This is the first time that pancreatic cancer has had a dedicated funding program at the DoD specifically for innovative, high-impact research to accelerate discoveries of new treatments and early detection strategies.

Creation of the program had been the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s (PanCAN) top legislative priority for two years – thousands of relentless, passionate advocates including many from West Virginia, met with their members of Congress at PanCAN’s National Advocacy Day, sent hundreds of personal messages their members of Congress, and took countless other critical actions that made a difference.  This is a significant step forward for the field – and critical for patients – as it provides additional pancreatic cancer research dollars to accelerate progress in creating new treatment options and early detection strategies.  Research funding for pancreatic cancer at the DoD complements the work of the National Cancer Institute.

 “We are thrilled that pancreatic cancer will have a new research program at the DoD,” said PanCAN President and CEO Julie Fleshman JD, MBA. “The pancreatic cancer research field continues to grow, and with a new infusion of dollars set aside to fund more grants, we have the opportunity to see accelerated progress.”  (Ms. Fleshman visited West Virginia in 2018 to thank volunteers and meet survivors.)  Pancreatic cancer researchers will have the opportunity to apply for grants through the program, which will be awarded to innovative, high-impact projects.

In 2011, the powerful voices of PanCAN advocates led to pancreatic cancer being included in the DoD’s Peer-Reviewed Cancer Research Program for the first time, which is part of the CDMRP. It was a crucial step for increasing resources for pancreatic cancer research.  The next step was to create a more focused effort, and the new $6 million dedicated research program is the result of that work.

These dedicated dollars are essential for a challenging disease like pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and has a five-year survival rate of just 10 percent.  

Annette Fetty-Santilli, of Philippi, PanCAN’s Community Partner for West Virginia said:  We applaud our champions in Congress for spearheading this effort, as well as the entire Congress for taking this important next step for the future of pancreatic cancer research and patients.” Ms. Santilli said. “We commend and thank our advocates and volunteers for speaking up and taking a stand on an issue that matters to them, and we look forward to building on the program in the years to come.”

Ms. Santilli said, “We especially want to thank our First District Congressman, David McKinley, for co-leading the initiative in the House of Representatives along with Congresswoman Eshoo of California.  Congressman McKinley is a true champion for our cause, and we are so grateful, especially for the over 300 West Virginians who will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year.”

Three members of West Virginia’s Congressional Delegation are members of the Congressional Caucus on the Deadliest Cancers:  Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Senator Joe Manchin, and Congressman David McKinley.  Ms Santilli said, “We are so grateful to our three Congressional members who have joined this caucus, and we thank them for their support in this cause.  We also hope the other two representatives will join the caucus as well.”

Ms. Santilli lost her brother to pancreatic cancer, and he was only 38 years old.  His condition was misdiagnosed numerous times, and passed away only 18 months after his diagnosis.

For more information about pancreatic cancer or the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, persons may refer to or West Virginia’s Facebook Group Page:  West Virginia – Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  Persons can also connect Annette Fetty-Santilli at 304-621-3648 or    . 
Photo:  First District Congressman David McKinley– 

Annette Fetty-Santilli

Community Advocate for West Virginia

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network 

(304) 621-3648

Do you know someone diagnosed with pancreatic cancer?  

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