FightSMA and GSF Announce $250,000 ‘Emerging Investigator Awards’ Program

FightSMA and GSF Announce $250,000 ‘Emerging Investigator Awards’ Program

Two organizations with storied histories of advancing research to defeat the childhood neuromuscular disease, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), have joined together to fund a program to attract a new generation of researchers into the SMA field.

The “FightSMA and Gwendolyn Strong Foundation Emerging Investigator Awards” will be funded with a $250,000 grant, the two organizations announced this week.

“We’re recruiting SMA’s next-generation leaders,” said FightSMA Chair Mike Calise. “The five most promising applicants will each be awarded initial grants of $25,000,” he said. “After six months, the five recipients will compete for two $62,500 grants that would cover one-year research projects.”

According to FightSMA’s Scientific Director, Dr. Chris Lorson of the University of Missouri, the grants are designed to recruit promising young investigators ranging from recent PhD graduates engaged in post-doctoral fellowships up to assistant professors within the first two years of their appointment.

“This grant program is broadly classified within Translational Therapeutics and could involve the preclinical assessment of a novel SMA drug or the development of a novel assay to find such a drug,” said Dr. Lorson.

“The leadership of FightSMA and of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation understand that the effort to find a treatment for SMA is a long fight,” said Dr. Alex MacKenzie, Co-Chair of FightSMA’s Scientific Advisory Committee. “We need to continually bring new thinking to this effort, and we need to recruit young, gifted talent to move the work forward in the future.”

“Over the years we’ve taken a targeted approach to SMA research with a focus on filling funding voids for promising programs,” said Bill Strong, Co-Founder of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. “This innovative grant program with FightSMA builds on that legacy to encourage fresh approaches to SMA research and ensure that the current momentum continues.”

To apply for the “FightSMA and Gwendolyn Strong Foundation Emerging Investigator Awards”, please visit, or contact Danielle Chan at FightSMA. Online applications are due February 15, 2013; the five initial grants will be announced April 11, 2013.

FightSMA ( is a 22-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of infant death. The group has awarded research grants at more than 40 universities and research institutions in five countries.

The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation ( is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing global awareness of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), accelerating research, and supporting families impacted by SMA and other life-altering conditions. The GSF motto: “NEVER GIVE UP.”

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