On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law S297, the Cancer Research Advisory Panel bill authored by Sen. Vickie Sawyer.

Primary sponsors of the bill include Sen. Ted Alexander and Sen. Jim Perry.

S297 was drafted by Sawyer working in conjunction with members of the Iredell County Task Force set up in response to community concerns regarding thyroid cancer. Members of the task force include Jane Hinson and Brady Freeman of the Iredell County Health Department, Iredell County commissioners, Iredell County Manager Beth Jones and Iredell County Deputy Manager Susan Robertson. Rep. John Fraley (Iredell) and Mayor Miles Atkins of Mooresville were also involved in the creation of this legislation.

The bill is an act to direct the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to assemble a research advisory panel to study and develop recommendations on strategies for implementation of a research program to determine whether any clusters of cancer incidents exist within the state.

Sawyer’s main motivation for sponsoring the bill comes from a desire to seek answers regarding the elevated rates of thyroid cancer in Iredell County and across the state.

“As the state senator for Iredell County, and as a mother and a wife to a family in Mooresville, North Carolina, I feel a personal commitment to finding answers as to what may be causing the increased rates of thyroid cancer affecting our community. Creating this legislation to study and research cancer clusters around the state is definitely a step in the right direction and I’m grateful this bill was able to become law with bi-partisan support,” said Sawyer (Iredell, Yadkin).

In establishing the Panel, the Collaboratory will consult with the following to identify experts in higher education, health care, and health insurance both within and outside of North Carolina: North Carolina  Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, UNC School of Medicine, UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Nicholas School of Environment at Duke University and The Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

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