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Conference highlights Massey’s research partnership to create a firefighter cancer registry

Jan 24, 2023


Bernard Fuemmeler, Ph.D., M.P.H., associate director for population science and the Gordon D. Ginder, M.D., chair in cancer research at VCU Massey Cancer Center, presented at the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters (VPFF) Legislative Conference on Jan. 18 about the creation of a firefighter cancer registry in Virginia.

Fuemmeler, the co-principal investigator (PI) of the initiative, spoke about occupational carcinogenic risks and the development of a mobile app and web portal to survey firefighters.

As of Nov. 2022, the Firefighter Cancer Support Network was offering assistance to 43 firefighters dealing with a cancer diagnosis. Having a statewide registry would allow Massey to collect data that firefighters will use to lobby for additions to the Virginia Code for occupational diseases. Currently, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, throat, ovarian, breast, colon, brain and testicular are the only cancers included.


“Working with these men and women has been a real privilege, and they keep surprising me with their motivation and dedication to addressing cancer in the firefighter work force,” said Fuemmeler. “They are really pushing Massey to do the research, and I’m giving it my all to meet their expectations.” 

Adding to the registry conversation at the VPFF conference were Jim Burch, Ph.D., member of the Cancer Prevention and Control research program at Massey and professor in the Division of Epidemiology in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health at the VCU School of Medicine, who is a co-PI for this effort; Trevin Glasgow, Ph.D., Institutional Research and Academic Career Development Awards postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health at the VCU School of Medicine and registry co-investigator; as well as Keith Andes, president of Richmond Professional Firefighters Association, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 995.

Following the discussion, the VPFF Charitable Foundation and VPFF pledged a combined $10,000 gift to support the registry.

Fuemmeler said a soft launch of the firefighter cancer registry is planned for Feb. 20-25 at the Virginia Fire and Rescue Conference in Virginia Beach, Va.

Written by: Amy Lacey

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