PRMRP Consumer Peer Reviewer
Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy® (Photo Provided)
Over 30 million Americans are affected by peripheral neuropathy (PN).1 PN occurs as the result of damage to the peripheral nervous system and is a culmination of disorders that present as a variety of symptoms, which may include pain, numbness, weakness, and imbalance.2 PN often develops as a result of a separate ailment, such as a metabolic disease, systemic trauma/injury, or toxic substance exposure.3
However, for some people like Ron Lissak, PN develops with no direct cause or underlying disease; this is known as idiopathic PN. There are no cures for PN. Instead, current PN treatments focus on the underlying cause of the individual’s PN and/or their pain management. For people with idiopathic PN, pain management comprises the majority of treatment. In fiscal year 2021 (FY21) the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP) began addressing PN as one of its Topic Areas.
“PN has always been viewed as a secondary disease... the fact that PN is now one of [the program]’s areas proposed for research changes the perception of PN,” Ron, a consumer peer reviewer for the PRMRP, remarked.
For Ron, this recognition of PN on its own, instead of being associated with another disease or condition, sparked new hope for advances in PN research and patient care. Ron has personally lived with PN for 15 years and works hard to adapt and compensate for the challenges that PN symptoms pose in his daily life. “I am in a constant state of numbness,” he says, but he doesn’t let PN stop him from enjoying a round of golf, spending time with his family, advocating for PN research, or working. Ron is the Chief Operating Officer of a medical imaging company that focuses on manufacturing Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners used to diagnose and monitor neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Ron is also an active member of The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy ® (FPN) and serves as their Communication and Institutional Advancement Committee Chair. When PN was announced as an FY21 PRMRP Topic Area, the Executive Director of the FPN suggested that Ron participate as a consumer peer reviewer for the PRMRP.
Ron’s personal experience as a patient with PN and in his career provide him unique expertise, understanding, and perspectives that he shares during peer review. He feels honored to be reviewing for the PRMRP and is impressed with the broad range and the quality of the research being proposed. Through his experience with the PRMRP, Ron has gained a “tremendous amount of respect” for the investigators who put forth their research ideas. He is hopeful funding PN-specific research will result in new treatment opportunities that will enable PN to be specifically targeted and treated or even cured not only for himself, but also for the millions of other Americans suffering from PN.
The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this paper are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of the Army position, policy, or decision.
1The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy. https://www.foundationforpn.org/.
2Barrell KB and Smith AG. 2019. Peripheral neuropathy. Medical Clinics of North America 103(2):383-397. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2018.10.006.
3Hammi C and Yeung B. 2022. Neuropathy. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island, FL. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542220.
Last updated Tuesday, August 9, 2022