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ADAO Asbestos Awareness Conference: Where Action and Awareness for Asbestos-Caused Diseases Unite


When Linda Reinstein and Doug Larkin first started the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization eleven years ago, they had no idea how much it would grow. In mid-April, the group hosted its 11th annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference, which was attended by over 200 people.

adao conference“We had a mission and a vision to end the mesothelioma that was ravaging through our loved ones bodies,” said President Linda Reinstein, while recounting the story of ADAO’s origins.

As she spoke, a picture of the attendees of the organization’s first conference glowed to either side of her on two large projector screens. Billed as a press conference, the first meeting in 2004 was attended by a small group of about 30 people, but lasted nearly three hours.

“We realized that a much bigger conversation was needed,” Reinstein said.

And so the International Asbestos Awareness Conference was born.

On April 18, 2015, people from nine countries gathered for the 11th annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference in Washington, D.C. Among their number were doctors from the UK, Mexico, and the United States, inspectors from Brazil and Pakistan, advocates from Australia, researchers from Germany, Netherlands, Finland, and patients from around the world.

“This is such a diverse group like no other meeting,” said Dr. Arthur Frank in his opening remarks. Dr. Frank is a co-chair of ADAO’s Scientific Advisory Board. “I am honored to be here.”

Simmons Hanly Conroy is proud to be the longest consecutive sponsor of the ADAO conference and a platinum sponsor for the past three years. More than 125 people attended the first session with more watching the livestream.

Every year more than 107,000 people die from asbestos-caused diseases around the world, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, 10,000 people die from asbestos-related diseases.

“As Dr. Selikoff, said – “Statistics are people with their tears wiped away.” Linda said while introducing the conference’s first speaker, Sandra Neuenschwander, a mother who lost her 29-year-old son Michael to mesothelioma this past year.

ADAO conference

ADAO President Linda Reinstein honors Simmons Hanly Conroy for being a 2015 platinum sponsor.

Sandra continues his legacy by working to secure an asbestos ban by sharing his story. This past year, she presented Michael’s story during ADAO’s Senate Staff Briefing. See Sandra’s interview with Linda here.

Another personal story presented during the conference was that of Ellen Patton. She is a 14-year mesothelioma survivor.  When she was first diagnosed in 2001, her doctor gave her 6-18 months to live. He told her to ‘use her time well.’

ADAO honored Ellen during its awards banquet with the Alan Reinstein award for her advocacy work to ban asbestos. Ellen attending and presented an numerous Congressional meetings and staff briefings on behalf of mesothelioma victims throughout the nation and around the world. Her voice has been strong in opposing the “so-called” Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act.

“The FACT Act would rob my safety,” she told conference attendees. The FACT act would require asbestos bankruptcy trusts to release private information of people who submitted injury claims to the trust.

When Ellen was first diagnosed, a known criminal received her information about her diagnosis and used it to scam other cancer patients on his website that was selling a fake cancer drug, she said. While going through the aggravation of getting her name and photo off the website, she was also threatened and harassed.

“I was terrified,” she said. “This is just one example of how someone can prey on cancer patients when privacy information is publicized – just like me, no one would be safe if the FACT Act was passed.”

The asbestos awareness conferenced lasted for two days and Ellen, Sandra, Linda and Dr. Frank were just a few of the more than 40 speakers from nine countries. Videos of the various sessions and keynote addresses are available on ADAO’s website.

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How to Get Involved in Global Asbestos Awareness Week (April 1-7)


During the week of April 1 – 7, 2015, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) presents Global Asbestos Awareness Week. This week is intended to raise asbestos awareness and help prevent asbestos-related diseases, which kill 107,000 people every year.

Asbestos Awareness WeekAsbestos has been confirmed as a serious health concern and a known carcinogen, but its use is still legal in all but 55 countries. Asbestos use only be stopped through education and awareness to prevent exposure, in addition to funding to find a cure for asbestos-related diseases.

Join us for Global Asbestos Awareness Week to learn how asbestos impacts health, the environment and the economy. The week opens on April 1 with Alan Reinstein’s Story, “I’ll Do Anything to Fight Mesothelioma to Have More Time With My Family, Anything.” Throughout the week, contributing collaborators – both organizations and individual leading experts – will share their stories in an effort to help spread education about asbestos exposure prevention. The week of learning concludes on April 7 with an online candlelit vigil.

What You Can Do

The easiest way to help spread asbestos awareness is to share your learnings from the week with friends, family and colleagues. But if you’d like to get more involved, here are a few ways you can help:

For a complete schedule of events for Global Asbestos Awareness week, click here.

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Simmons Hanly Conroy Client Ellen Patton to be Awarded at the 2015 ADAO Conference Dinner


People from all kinds of backgrounds have been impacted by mesothelioma and asbestos. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) strives to honor such people at its annual Asbestos Awareness Conference. This year, ADAO will honor the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to the asbestos and mesothelioma cause.

  • Ellen Patton
    Award: Alan Reinstein Award
    asbestos awareness advocateAs a client of Simmons Hanly Conroy, Ellen has experienced firsthand the devastation of a mesothelioma diagnosis. She is a steadfast asbestos awareness advocate – she delivered a speech titled “A Patient’s Mesothelioma Journey” at a Senate briefing in 2013 in Washington D.C. She has also started a soap making business that donates 10 percent of its profits to ADAO.

    “After outliving the 12 to 18 months prognosis I was given, I felt it was my duty to warn oth-ers of the dangers of asbestos,” Ellen said in a Simmons Hanly Conroy interview. “I needed to speak for those who had gone before me and could speak no more.”

  • Dr. Jorma Rantanen
    Award: Dr. Irving Selikoff Lifetime Achievement Award
    When it comes to spreading asbestos awareness and advocating for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma, Dr. Rantanen has worked tirelessly. He will be honored by ADAO on April 18.
  • Troi Atkinson
    Award: Warren Zevon “Keep Me in Your Heart” Award
    As an ADAO Ambassador who is constantly working to increase mesothelioma and asbestos awareness, Troi is a major part of ADAO’s efforts. He also has a direct connection to the cause – Troi is a mesothelioma patient. See him perform a song titled “Not Ready Yet” in this exclusive video for ADAO.
  • American Public Health Association (APHA)
    Award: Tribute of Unity Award
    APHA has relentlessly pursued the protection of public health through the ban of asbestos on both an international and national level. The organization has also worked tirelessly to spread asbestos awareness and education.
  • International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig)
    Award: Tribute of Hope Award
    The effort to advance mesothelioma treatment and find a cure may seem long, but iMig has not given up. This organization is being awarded for their unwavering dedication to patient support and mesothelioma treatment advancements.
  • The Brazilian Labour Public Ministry
    Award: Tribute of Inspiration Award
    This organization has made a profound effort to protect workers’ safety and health, especially among asbestos workers and victims. Through the constant pursuit of justice and truth, this organization strives for asbestos awareness.

For more details about the 2015 Asbestos Awareness Conference honorees, be sure to attend the event. It will take place on April 17 to 19 in Washington D.C. Find more information about the conference here.

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Sneak Peak: 2015 Mesothelioma Symposium Speakers


Set to take place on March 2 to 4 in Bethesda, MD, the 2015 International Symposium on Malignant Mesothelioma will feature a wide spectrum of mesothelioma experts and advocates. The firm is proud to again be a sponsor of this important annual event. If you are thinking about attending either in person or via the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation’s live stream, you may be wondering who some of the speakers will be.

mesothelioma symposiumHere are some of the individuals who will be participating in the 2015 Symposium by speaking about mesothelioma research, asbestos exposure and more.

  • M. Catherine Bushnell, PhD – National Institutes of Health
    Catherine will be presenting one of the first sessions after lunch on March 2, which is titled “Mind-body practices and the brain’s role in the perception and management of pain”. She is one of several professionals from the National Institutes of Health who will be presenting at the Symposium, including Linda Nebeling, PhD and Ann Berger, MSN, MD.
  • Mary Hesdorffer, MS, APRN, Executive Director – Meso Foundation
    Mary will not only be opening and closing the Symposium, she’ll also be leading many of the clinical discussions on March 3. You can hear from her in the clinical discussions after “From Nature to the Clinic – Managing Side Effects of Radiotherapy for Cancer Treatment” and “Research and Development” sessions.
  • Diane Blackburn, Director of Policy and Prevention Education – Meso Foundation
    Diane’s session will focus primarily on what is currently being done (and what should be done) to prevent mesothelioma across the country. Diane has spent 30 years as a radiation therapist, giving her vast knowledge into diseases associated with asbestos exposures. Her father was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2002 – it was from this life-changing event that Diane quickly became an advocate for asbestos exposure prevention.
  • Julian Molina, MD, PhD – Mayo Clinic
    Julian will be a part of the clinical discussions on March 3. As an oncologist at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic, Julian focuses primarily on lung cancers, brain metastasis and head and neck cancer. Julian will be accompanied by another Mayo Clinic physician, Dennis Wigle, MD, PhD, who will participate in a separate clinical discussion that same day.
  • Joseph Friedberg, MD – University of Maryland
    Joseph, who will be participating in a clinical discussion at the Symposium, is the Division Head of Thoracic Surgery at the University of Maryland. His recent appointment to this position in 2014 helped strengthen the university as a clinical and research leader in the treatment of thoracic cancers, including mesothelioma. In addition, another University of Maryland professional – Melissa Culligan, NP, will be speaking about research and development on March 3.

This is a short preview of some of the speakers who will be hosting and participating in sessions at the 2015 Symposium. The Meso Foundation has a full list of speakers and topics that you can view here.

If you are interested, there is still time to register for the event. The Symposium is geared toward individuals of all kinds – from patients and their loved ones to medical professionals and scientists. Click here and fill out the form to register. We look forward to seeing you there.

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2015 ADAO Asbestos Awareness Conference: “Where Knowledge and Action Unite”


Asbestos is a known carcinogen, yet it’s still used in the United States. Additionally, many people don’t understand the connection between asbestos and serious diseases like mesothelioma, or even where asbestos is used. As an advocate for asbestos victims, the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) works to bring awareness through its 11th Annual International Asbestos Awareness Conference.

2015-AAC-Date-BORDER-FINAL-450x438The theme for the 2015 conference is “Where Knowledge and Action Unite”. The event will take place on April 17-19 in Washington D.C., and will feature more than 40 notable experts and asbestos victims from ten countries. These experts will present information on the latest advancements in disease prevention, global advocacy and mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease treatments.

The primary four sessions of the 2015 conference will cover the following topics:

  • Progress and Challenges from the Frontline
  • Medical Advancements
  • Prevention
  • Advocacy

The event begins at 8 a.m. Saturday, April 18 with registration and a continental breakfast, concluding for the day at 5 p.m. Sunday’s sessions will begin at 9:30 a.m. and will conclude at 11:30 a.m. The full agenda is shown here.

ADAO is the only nonprofit organizing conferences dedicated solely to preventing asbestos exposure and eliminating asbestos-based diseases.

Simmons Hanly Conroy is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor of the 2015 conference. Along with ADAO, we encourage anyone impacted by asbestos exposure and mesothelioma to consider attending the 2015 conference. Registration is open now through April 1. You can register here.

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