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Posted: December 12, 2007
Michael J. Fox Foundation launches Rapid Response Innovation Awards 2008 following strong inaugural year response
(Nanowerk News) Having funded $2 million
total to support 27 high-risk, high-reward approaches to Parkinson's
disease research in the first year of its Rapid Response Innovation Awards
(RRIA) initiative, The Michael J. Fox Foundation today announced that it
will commit $2 million to a second round of funding in 2008. RRIA is
designed to ensure that researchers can pursue good ideas without delay.
Under this program the Foundation accepts proposals on a rolling basis with
no deadline, makes funding decisions within six weeks of application and
speeds up to $75,000 to one-year basic, preclinical or clinical research
projects in any Parkinson's-relevant arena.
"RRIA funds 'flashes of insight' in real time, hopefully helping to
open new avenues for PD therapy development," said Katie Hood, interim CEO
of The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
To accommodate these "flashes of insight," the program's criteria and
application process are designed with novelty and speed in mind.
Todd Sherer, PhD, vice president of research programs at MJFF, said:
"We set up RRIA to attract new researchers to Parkinson's and to provide
support for unorthodox ideas -- the sort that could significantly impact PD
treatment, but that may have little or no preliminary data, making it hard
or impossible to find traditional funding to carry them out. Based on the
strong response from the scientific community in 2007, it's clear this
program is filling a need."
The program is designed to provide funding for strong ideas being
tested for the first time. Unlike other Foundation initiatives, RRIA allows
for the submission of applications at any time of year. There is no
pre-proposal stage, and the standard application has been shortened to
three pages. Additionally, postdoctoral researchers are permitted to apply
as principal investigators under this initiative provided the head of their
lab serves as Administrative PI to assist with the provision of
institutional documents and sign the award contract.
Projects funded in 2008 include:
A project testing whether isradipine, a high-blood-pressure drug
already approved for use in humans, protects dopamine neurons in an
animal model of Parkinson's disease;
Development of nanoparticle technology as a non-viral gene therapy
technique that could help overcome the delivery challenges of getting
PD therapeutics past the blood-brain barrier;
A project to test the Braak Hypothesis, which posits that sporadic
Parkinson's may begin not in the central nervous system but in the
enteric, or gastrointestinal, nervous system -- knowledge that would
provide revolutionary insights into the pathogenesis and progression
of PD; and
Initial work to determine whether low levels of a gene called ST13
predict risk of future PD (which could lead to the development of
a practical, widely available blood test for early and objective
diagnosis of Parkinson's disease).
A complete list of projects funded under RRIA 2007, including
researcher bios and grant abstracts, is available at
Founded in 2000, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
is dedicated to ensuring the development of a cure for Parkinson's disease
within this decade through an aggressively funded research agenda. The
Foundation has funded $100 million in research to date.