Grants Awarded to Children’s Disease Researchers
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KANSAS CITY, Mo.—The Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) announced the recipients of the 2013 Patton Trust Research Development Grants targeting cures for children’s diseases. Four grant awards of $50,000 each will be used to pursue research in the genetic basis of diseases affecting children.

New grants from the National Institutes of Health are increasingly competitive and difficult for scientists to land.  Those that have earned awards are seeing their grant budgets reduced and/or significant delays in launching projects due to sequestration.  These issues underscore the importance of KCALSI grants to scientists in the Kansas City region.

The grants are funded by the Paul Patton Charitable Trust, Bank of America, corporate co-trustee, and provides researchers’ with funding to expand their work to compete for larger, federally-funded grant programs.

The recipients of the 2013 Research Development Grants are:

  • Marcia Chan, PhD is an immunology researcher at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics.  Her proposed studies focus on specific gene alterations associated with asthma susceptibility.  She hopes to define at both the molecular and immunological levels how these changes in genes interact to create asthma.  Her work addresses an important public health issue and will increase understanding of how such gene changes influence the onset of asthma in a specific subset of patients.  This research will help guide development of personalized therapeutic regimens for those affected individuals.
  • Peter Smith, PhD is a Professor of Physiology at the University of Kansas Medical Center and a Director of the Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (KIDDRC) . With 4000 developmental disorders with unknown genetic origins, Dr. Smith’s research team will generate mouse models with single point mutations that mimic developmental disorders seen in children. He will use conventional magnetic resonance imaging and histology, as well as new imaging technologies that allow researchers to analyze neural pathways (the ‘connectome’) to understand how brain projections are altered in genetic developmental disorders.
  • Toshihiko Ezashi, PhD, DVM is a Research Assistant Professor for the Department of Animal Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food, & Natural Resources at the University of Missouri. His project will use cellular reprogramming of neurons as a tool to study neurological disorders that lead to mental retardation.  Dr. Ezashi will undertake his study with collaborative input from colleagues at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.   He plans to examine neurons in special tissue culture conditions to unlock disease mechanisms associated with four neurodevelopmental disorders, including Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS), Potocki-Lupski Syndrome (PTLS), Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome (PTHS), and mental retardation (MRD1). Each of these disorders is caused by a single gene abnormality.
  • Zohreh Talebizadah, PhD is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics. Her project focuses on autism, the most common neurodevelopmental disorder with onset in early childhood. The project will characterize how different splicing of three related genes, each important for proper brain function, could affect brain function and result in behavioral features seen in autism.  Knowledge gained from this project will contribute to the discovery of genetic risk factors for autism and development of new therapeutic interventions.   Dr. Talebizadeh’s collaborative research program also includes researchers from the University of Kansas Medical Center.

“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.  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.”

“Rapidly 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.

From 2006 to 2011, KCALSI’s Research Development Grants program managed 47 grants totaling $1,820,902 million, which enabled area researchers to successfully compete for $10,976,000 million in additional funding.  The Institute’s program includes proposal review, evaluation by subject matter experts, written reviews for all applicants, and post-award management.

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More Information, Contact: Dr. Keith Gary, KCALSI Director or Program Development at (816) 753-7700

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