Area Grant Recipients Recognized for Research in Children’s Diseases
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For Release July 31, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) today announced the local recipients of three, $50,000 grants that will enable the continuation of critical research in finding cures for children’s diseases.

The 2012 Patton Trust Research Development Grants – which are funded by the Paul Patton Charitable Trust, Bank of America, corporate co-trustee – provide funding to promising research programs exploring the genetic basis of diseases affecting children.  The grants help to assist researchers’ work in gathering key data that better positions the research programs to compete for significantly larger, federally funded grants.

“The Paul Patton Charitable Trust is enabling the translation of innovative scientific research into life-saving treatments for children’s diseases,” said Dr. Wayne Carter, KCALSI’s president and chief executive officer.  “Our region is well-positioned to capitalize on accelerating laboratory findings to directly help patients, a process known as translational research.  It’s a somewhat new and extremely important area of medicine that involves a close collaboration between researchers and physicians, with the intended outcome of new, better and more affordable patient treatments.”

The recipients of the 2012 Research Development Grants are:

  • Dr. Stephen F. Kingsmore, director, Center for Pediatric Genomic Medicine, Children’s Mercy Hospital & Clinics.  Kingsmore’s collaborative research program also includes the University of Kansas Medical Center, the Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, and physicians from both Children’s Mercy and KU Medical Center.

    Inherited diseases cause approximately 15 percent of the admissions to Children’s Mercy Hospital.  Unfortunately, the disease gene has not yet been discovered in more than 3,600 inherited childhood diseases. Kingsmore’s research program is decoding DNA to identify the gene mutations that cause many of these diseases, and then works with an integrated Children’s Mercy team to develop new treatments for them.

  • Dr. Timothy Fields, associate professor, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center.  Fields’ research team is  exploring treatments for polycystic kidney disease, one of the most common potentially fatal genetic disorders for which no specific treatments are available.  The mortality rate of infants born with this kidney disease is alarmingly high. Approximately 30 percent of the infants who survive the neonatal period will ultimately die from the disease before adulthood.

    The goal of this research project is to identify specific treatments that could slow the progression of polycystic kidney disease, extend the child’s life, and ultimately improve long-term survival.

  • Dr. Brian Petroff, associate professor, internal medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center.  Petroff’s research team is exploring a recent discovery that a commonly used drug, tamoxifen, could potentially decrease birth defects.  The theory being tested is that tamoxifen can improve the DNA quality of women who are considered high-risk due to age and chemotherapy treatments.  The drug could potentially decrease birth defects by improving or repairing DNA damage in both eggs and embryos.

    Birth defects are a serious societal burden that not only compromise the health and function of children throughout their lives, but also cause intense financial and emotional distress for their families and caretakers. 

KCALSI has provided the scientific expertise to screen the grant applications funded by the Paul Patton Charitable Trust funds since 2007.  It is a service that KCALSI offers to other trusts and individuals funding scientific and medical research grants.

“Due to the complexity of these grant proposals, reviewing them and determining their potential is a difficult and time-consuming process that demands a high level of expertise in a wide variety of scientific fields,” Carter explained.  “We can help trusts make critical decisions on which grant requests are most likely to make the greatest impact on patient health.

“Moving ground-breaking research from the laboratory to the patient – or from “bench to bedside” as translational research is described – is necessary if we are to dramatically improve patient care,” Carter said.

 

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For More Information, Contact:  Dr. Keith Gary, KCALSI director of program development, 816-753-7700

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