Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Announces New Round of Cooperative Research Matching Grants

June 27, 2013

 

Grant recipients will use funding to research novel therapeutics for kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and bone marrow transplants

                                                         

WALTHAM, Mass. –The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC), the quasi-public agency tasked with implementing the state’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, has announced the winners of the third round of its Cooperative Research Matching Grant Program.

The MLSC’s Cooperative Research Matching Grants seek to increase industry-sponsored research at academic institutions in Massachusetts in order to accelerate scientific discoveries that lead to commercially-viable products and therapies. Winners will each receive $250,000 per year for two years and have secured an industry sponsor for the research which will match funds on a one-to-one basis. These collaborations will allow the winners access to more technology for use in their research, as well as to top scientific publications and expert scientists.

In this round, 21 applications were received. Following an initial round of peer review, 12 of those applications advanced to review by the MLSC’s Scientific Advisory Board, which recommended the four finalists who were selected to receive funding totaling $2 million. This funding was awarded today after a vote of the MLSC Board of Directors.

“We invest in innovation because enabling and encouraging industries that depend on brainpower is the best way to take advantage of the knowledge explosion happening in the world economy today,” said Governor Patrick. “The Cooperative Research Matching Grant Program will foster cross-collaboration between research institutions and industry, create jobs and fuel our innovation economy.”

The research partners that were authorized to receive Cooperative Research Matching Grants during the third round of this program are as follows:

  • Dr. Weining Lu of Boston Medical Center will be addressing a major disease – chronic kidney disease -- that cannot be fully treated with existing pharmaceuticals. Chronic kidney disease is a major worldwide health problem with ineffective therapy options. The biological pathway that BMC is studying is an ideal, novel target for the development of renal protective therapy that can be used in conjunction with existing kidney disease drugs. BMC’s industry partner is Pfizer.
  • Drs. Philip De Jager and Howard Weinder of Brigham and Women’s Hospital are studying Multiple sclerosis (MS) and the potential for personalized treatment of the disease. When MS is diagnosed, clinicians cannot predict if cases will be mild or severe, and often are left with arbitrary, sometimes ineffective treatment options for each individual patient.  The BWH study will attempt to locate specific biomarkers for MS patients to allow for more individualized, effective treatment.  BWH’s industry partner is Merck Serono.
  • Dr. Xi He of Children’s Hospital is studying the impact of modifying molecular pathways in bone growth as a potential treatment for osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a large and growing problem with limited treatment available, and the pathway that Children’s Hospital is studying is a novel way to approach the problem.  If bone growth can be encouraged within the body, it could be possible to reverse osteoporosis.  Children’s Hospital’s partner is Pfizer.
  • Dr. David Scadden of Massachusetts General Hospital will be testing a therapy in conjunction with another drug on the market in an attempt to reduce complications from bone marrow transplants, which often have complex and toxic side effects.  This treatment aims to increase natural stem cell and red blood cell re-population after bone marrow donations, which would benefit donors and potentially recipients. When combined with an already-existing drug, this treatment could be a more efficacious way to make bone marrow transplantation available to a wider group of patients.  MGH’s industry partner is GlaxoSmithKline.

“The Cooperative Research Matching Grant Program fosters collaboration between the state’s top principal investigators and industry scientists,” said Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the MLSC. “This funding will enable the acceleration of treatments to go from ‘the bench to the bedside.’ The last two rounds of grants have brought economic returns and advanced medical and scientific knowledge, and we look forward to seeing new breakthroughs from this round’s awardees.”

A 2010 Cooperative Research Matching Grant recipient, Dr. Quinquin Fang at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been using his funding to develop an optical breast scanner used in conjunction with current mammography techniques in order to better diagnose breast cancer.

“The CRMG award we received from the MLSC has helped us build the initial collaboration with Philips, a step that we have long awaited in moving our research towards the bedside,” said Dr. Fang. “Having the opportunity to work closely with the scientists, clinical and research managers from Philips, we learned a lot in adapting our technology for better clinical utility. Although the project is still ongoing, we have accumulated promising initial results and submitted a grant proposal to the NIH to build on the momentum set forth by this grant.”

About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a 10-year, $1-billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The MLSC’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties among sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.

About the Cooperative Research Matching Grant Program

The Cooperative Research Matching Grant Program is designed to promote industry-academic research collaborations, support translational research and accelerate the commercialization of promising products and services. Not-for-profit research institutions are eligible to apply for grant funding of up to $250,000 per year over two years, provided that they have secured an industry sponsor for the research which will match funds on a one-to-one basis.

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