Announcing the Two 2013 Emerging Investigator Awards Finalist GranteesJanuary 15, 2014 by Bill Strong
We are extremely excited to announce the two Finalist Grantees for the 2013 "FightSMA/Gwendolyn Strong Foundation Emerging Investigator Awards" program!
Dr. Lyndsay Murray of Ottawa Hospital Research Institute for her SMA research program focused on investigating the reasons why motor neurons are vulnerable in SMA and Dr. Constantin d'Ydewalle of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine for his research focused on long non-coding RNAs in SMA.
The Finalist Grantees will each receive a $62,500 grant from FightSMA/Gwendolyn Strong Foundation to fund a full year of SMA research. The two Finalist Grantees were selected from an impressive group of five Award Grantees who each received $25,000 grants from FightSMA/Gwendolyn Strong Foundation as part of the 2013 Emerging Investigator Awards program.
A few words from our distinguished Finalist Grantees:
Dr. Lyndsay Murray >> "My research is centered on investigating the reasons why motor neurons are vulnerable in SMA. My aim is to identify cellular functions which are perturbed in SMA motor neurons and to find ways to correct these defects and identify novel therapeutic agents. I am honoured to be a recipient of a Fight SMA and GSF emerging investigator award. This award not only provides critical funding for my research, but also provides key support for my future career. In the year ahead I will be establishing my own research laboratory. I am therefore excited to build upon the preliminary data generated during the first phase of this grant program. The EIA program provides invaluable support to researchers, such as myself, at a transitional phase of their careers. In addition to funding SMA research, the prestige associated with this award helps individuals secure permanent research positions and increases the chances of securing funding from other sources in the future. The EIA program therefore not only funds research now, but also has an significant impact upon the future of SMA research. I am acutely aware that the EIA program would not be possible without the remarkable hard work and dedication demonstrated by all those at Fight SMA and the GSF, as well as all the families, friends and supporters who have raised and donated funds. I find this demonstration of solidarity truly inspiring and it gives me great motivation to continue my research and be a part of the SMA research field."
Dr. Constantin d'Ydewalle >> "I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the inaugural FightSMA/Gwendolyn Strong Foundation Emerging Investigator Award. I thank both organizations for having confidence in me as an emerging SMA investigator as well as in our project they are willing to fund. In general, long non-protein-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are known to be powerful regulators of gene expression. Our project focuses on the identification of lncRNAs that regulate SMN expression since SMA is characterized by reduced levels of SMN. In addition, we are investigating by which mechanism(s) these lncRNAs regulate levels of SMN. To this end, we are using several state-of-the art molecular biology techniques to interfere with the expression and the function of those lncRNAs. With the financial support of FightSMA and the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation, we are hopeful that our project will identify SMN-associated lncRNAs as innovative and promising therapeutic targets for SMA."
We'd like to acknowledge and applaud the remaining three Award Grantees from the program; Dr. Steven Crone -- Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Dr. Hansjord Rindt -- University of Missouri, and Dr. Kevin Foust -- Ohio State University. Your tireless work for the SMA cause is greatly appreciated and we look forward to tracking your progress and supporting your efforts in the coming months and years. Keep up the inspiring work!
The announcement of these two Finalist Grantees mark the culmination of our inaugural Emerging Investigator Awards program in 2013. When we launched the program with FightSMA in early 2013 our goal was to fill a void in the SMA research funding ecosystem, inspire fresh approaches to the complex SMA puzzle, and directly support a new generation of SMA researchers in the critical early stages of their careers. We're extremely pleased with the number and caliber of grant submissions received from nearly every major SMA research institution and covering nearly every aspect of SMA research. And while we remain extremely encouraged by the current state of SMA research and the several programs working their way to and through the rigorous human clinical trial process, we are committed to providing an environment and critical seed funding to support new ideas that will become the future velocity of SMA research.
Click HERE to read the joint press release about the announcement.
Click HERE to read more about the 2013 Emerging Investigator Awards program.