Hollis Brownstein Research Grants

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Hollis Brownstein Research Grants

The Leukemia Research Foundation exclusively funds New Investigators – individuals beginning to establish their own laboratories that are no longer under the tutelage of a senior scientist mentor. It is difficult for them to get the level of funding they need at this critical point in their careers.

The Leukemia Research Foundation is unique in the level of support it provides to highly promising scientists in this absolutely critical research niche. Providing one year grants of $100,000 to selected New Investigator researchers, allows innovative scientists to act on their ideas, and try new procedures and experiments that will hopefully lead to significant breakthroughs. The Leukemia Research Foundation funds the research of scientists that are from independent labs, not the labs of pharmaceutical companies.

Researchers funded by the LRF publish their results in an effort to inform the scientific community about their advances. In addition, their initial results are used to obtain grants from larger, multi-year funding sources – thus furthering their research and potential for finding a cure that works.

Support of the LRF will fuel today’s creative ideas and help launch the careers of scientists who may further our understanding of leukemia and lymphoma for years to come. Founded in 1946, the LRF has raised more than $50 million in its 65 year history supporting its mission.

How are these research grants distributed?

Expert recommendations on who receives the grants are made by the Leukemia Research Foundation’s Medical Advisory Board, an independent volunteer board comprised of prominent and qualified M.D.’s and Ph.D’s with expertise in leukemia, lymphoma and myelodysplastic syndromes.

The Board convenes each year to discuss and prioritize the grant applications from scientists around the world. The criterion on which the panel bases their assessment includes three basic points:

Innovation – the innovation a proposal offers, discerning whether the findings will contribute to leukemia, lymphoma, and MDS research.
Mission – what affect the study may have on how leukemia, lymphoma and MDS are detected, diagnosed and treated.
Training/Environment – training and preparedness of the applicant & their research setting.

“Funding New Investigators is extremely important because this is the beginning of a talented individual’s career, and it’s also a time when they’re most vulnerable. They don’t have much of a track record except their college records and their graduate school records, so major organizations and the national government don’t fund very many of them.”

Janet Rowley, M.D.
Leukemia Research Foundation research grant recipient, National Medal of Science recipient, 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient
“In 1993, I had just started my lab at Northwestern University, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) was in a funding crisis (much as it is now), so it was very difficult for young investigators to get funded. The grant I received from Leukemia Research Foundation (LRF) got me started, got my lab growing and helped me be successful. I have published 37 papers since then, helped 6 students get Ph.D.s and several post-docs start their own careers. Now I am a successful, NIH-funded investigator, a full Professor and Associate Director of the NCI-designated Cancer Center at the University of New Mexico.

I serve on NIH study sections reviewing the grants of others. I owe all of my success to the funding I received from the LRF, which helped me get started in leukemia research. The LRF also gave me a chance to attend its annual meeting where Chapters – the organization’s volunteer-led groups that produce fundraising activities to benefit the LRF – report how they have raised the funds, often through bake sales and other incredible efforts, which support the researchers. The thought of all those individuals from all those Chapters, many of which are named for leukemia patients, has stayed with me and has made me much more grateful and understanding about where the research dollars come from. I am consequently quite careful with how I spend those precious dollars to make sure they go to good use. The LRF is a wonderful organization, and I thank them for their support.”

Scott A. Ness, Ph.D.
Professor, Molecular Genetics & Microbiology
Director, Keck-UNM Genomics Resource
Associate Director, University of New Mexico Cancer Center

“One of the hardest career transitions is that between trainee status and independence. For many new faculty members, this transition is compounded by lack of adequate funding to conduct investigations or to protect their time from other obligations. New Investigations are also at a disadvantage when applying for federal (NIH) grants, because of their lack of track record and productivity as compared to established investigators. Foundations like the LRF help fill in these gaps”.

Eric Beyer, M.D.
University of Chicago Medical Center

“…as I talk to scientists and administrators throughout the country, the anxiety is palpable. I share these concerns. I am most deeply troubled about the impact of this difficult situation on junior scientists….we all agree on the urgency of developing new and better ways of maintaining the attractiveness, joy, and excitement of a research career while eliminating the daunting obstacles and rigid traditions that junior researchers are facing. Now is not the time to discourage young scientists, but to find bold ways of improving their career prospects and opportunities.”

Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D.
Former National Institute of Health Director

“Our hope is that from the knowledge we have gained in understanding how these proteins work in normal cells, we will be able to find new ways to treat all types of leukemia. We also think the discoveries will have broad implications in treating other types of cancers…as we continue to understand how these DNA packaging proteins work, we will find new ways to treat all types of leukemia as well as other diseases.”

Michael Cosgrove, Ph.D.
Syracuse University, Assistant Professor of Biology, and LRF funded New Investigator Researcher credited with a discovery that may lead to reprogram cancerous cells back into normal cells.

“I am extremely grateful for the grant we received from the Leukemia Research Foundation…we were able to obtain additional preliminary results on which genes control chromosomal translocations and instability, which often is correlated with the onset of leukemia.”

Michael Fasullo, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, The Ordway Research Institute Associate Professor, State University of New York at Albany, and LRF funded New Investigator

“Support from the Leukemia Research Foundation has proven instrumental in helping me to establish a career researching heritable factors predisposing to hematological malignancy. Due to the scarcity of patients, the tremendous amount of clinical field work, and the lengthy process of molecular laboratory investigations, it is necessary for early stage translational investigators to “bootstrap” research support from patient-centered foundations in order to generate the necessary preliminary data required to launch full scale NIH-supported research programs. The LRF grant enabled me to establish human subjects protocols and immediately begin genetic characterization of familial forms of leukemia. Thanks in large part to this initial support from LRF, we were able to secure NIH funding and eventually to successfully identify genes (ELA2/ELANE, GFI1, and AP3B1) responsible for hereditary forms of neutropenia, which predispose to AML and MDS, in papers in Nature Genetics and Blood in 1999, 2000, and 2003. Additionally, we were successful in confirming and further characterizing the gene (RUNX1/AML) responsible for the syndrome, familial platelet disorder with predisposition to AML, in a paper in Blood in 2002. LRF support gave me a foothold from which I could expand laboratory investigations into genetic factors predisposing to lymphoma, and we recently identified the first gene (KLHDC8B) predisposing to Hodgkin lymphoma, in a paper published in PNAS last year. Interestingly enough, the specific proposal presented in 1998 has only just recently come to fruition, in that we have been able to identify a new gene predisposing to familial forms of AML and MDS in the families described in the application, in a paper that will be submitted soon. I have been honored to receive two awards, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2002 and the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award in 2007, both recognizing my research accomplishments in this field. From the pragmatic perspective, research findings from my lab have led to new genetic diagnostic tests (particularly in the case of ELA2/ELANE), which have proven clinically useful in the differential diagnosis of childhood bone marrow failure syndrome, as well as insights that may some day lead to new forms of therapy for leukemia, lymphoma, and bone marrow failure.”

Marshall S. Horwitz, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, Medical Scientist Training Program Professor, Department of Pathology
Adjunct Professor, Departments of Medicine, Genome Sciences, & Biology
University of Washington School of Medicine
Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM)