Former Sen. Paul T. Tsongas, whose successful fight against lymph cancer became a symbol of strength in his failed bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, will help launch a campaign today aimed at raising public awareness about the benefits of medical research.
Mr. Tsongas will be the keynote speaker at the Maryland Science Center, where a national not-for-profit organization called Research!America will begin a two-week campaign of educational programs in Maryland schools, libraries and health care institutions.
The former senator, who battled cancer from 1983 to 1986, has attributed his survival to a bone marrow transplant that was considered experimental at the time but has since become fairly standard treatment. The disease curtailed his Senate career, but he later declared himself "cured" and waged a presidential campaign that included primary victories this year in Maryland and New Hampshire.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin are expected to attend the event at 10 a.m. today.
Representatives of health care organizations, including Robert Dressing, president of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, will also participate.
Today the Science Center will open an exhibit on acquired immune deficiency syndrome and another that reviews the history of medical research.
Based in Alexandria, Va., Research!America is supported financially by 150 voluntary health organizations, universities, corporations, foundations, professional societies and charities that depend, in part, on federal grants for its research.
Through public education, organizers say, the group hopes to build a consensus that the federal government needs to spend more on medical research. The group, however, does not support political candidates, according to a spokesman.
Research!America plans a national campaign but chose Maryland as its launching pad, in part because of the concentration of prominent medical research institutions. During the next two weeks in Maryland, scientists will visit schools to talk to students about careers in science while libraries will promote scientific research through films and lectures.
Next Wednesday, April 29, Research!America will sponsor evening coffees in homes around the state to coincide with a televised advertisement by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.