ABTA Rally Capitol Hill for Brain Tumor Research

On September 19, the American Brain Tumor Association was one of several leading health organizations on Capitol Hill for AACR Rally for Medical Research Day. Brain tumor research continues to be underfunded, and the ABTA, representing the voices of the brain tumor community, called on national policymakers to advance federal funding of brain tumor research. The purpose of the annual rally is to lobby members of Congress to make funding for National Institutes of Health (NIH) a national priority and raise awareness about the importance of continued investment in medical research.

President and CEO Ralph DeVitto, Chief Development Officer Kelly Sitkin and Chief Mission Officer Nicole Willmarth, PhD, along with two ABTA Board Members Brandon Starkoff and Carla Varner, urged members of the U.S. Congress to increase federal funding for brain tumor research.

The ABTA is not alone in this endeavor as it joined a coalition of 340 stakeholders in the medical field, including partnering organizations such as PanCAN, AACR, Lungevity, Melanoma Research Alliance and other medical institutions. The ABTA staff and Board Members met with industry, legislators and legislative staff, including Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), as well as U.S. Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL 9th District), Bobby Rush (D-IL 1st District) and Lois Frankel (D-FL 21st District).

Learn more about this national effort at


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Mindee Plugues


Mindee J. Plugues, of Los Angeles, CA, is vice president, marketing for the Applebee’s brand and brings skills including brand strategy, executive leadership, and marketing to the board. Plugues has been an ABTA donor since April 2001, following her father’s passing from GBM. She is also a former member of the ABTA endurance program, Team Breakthrough.

Bob Kruchten


Bob Kruchten, of Mount Prospect, IL, is a sales manager at Extreme Reach, a leading advertising technology company. He has strong skills in communications and fundraising, and has been advocating for the ABTA for 19 years in tribute to his best friend, Paul Fabbri, who lost his 10-year battle with GBM in 1998. Kruchten accepted the ABTA’s Joel A. Gingras Jr. Award in 2015 on behalf of the Paul Fabbri Memorial Fund.