TUCSON, Ariz. (March 31, 2010) — Forty-two medical researchers and their labs have been awarded over $21 million in grants from the Muscular Dystrophy Association to advance critical neuromuscular research in 2010. Many of the grants are multi-year awards to be dispersed over the next three years.
Kevin P. Campbell, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, is a notable MDA grant recipient. Campbell, who also is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, has been awarded $517,814 to continue his groundbreaking work in muscle biology. Including this grant, MDA has awarded Campbell over $2,730,000 in scientific grant money since 1990.
The grant is part of MDA’s ongoing commitment to fund neuromuscular research that may eventually lead to treatments and cures for muscular dystrophy and related diseases.
“All of these grants were recommended for funding by the distinguished groups of neuromuscular disease researchers and clinicians voluntarily serving on the MDA Medical and Scientific Advisory Committees,” explains R. Rodney Howell, M.D., Chairman of the MDA Board of Directors.
“Dr. Campbell is an outstanding scientist, and Kevin’s contributions to the field of neuromuscular disease research continue to be impressive.”
With this new grant, Campbell and his colleagues, including Matthew Goddeeris, Ph.D., will study several types of muscular dystrophy that result from deficient glycosylation (addition of sugar molecules) of a muscle protein called dystroglycan. Understanding the glycosylation process may help scientists develop treatments for some muscular dystrophies, including a type of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy and several forms of congenital muscular dystrophy.
“This research will enable us to accomplish the next major step in our goal to design a therapy for muscular dystrophy,” said Campbell. “MDA funding has been particularly helpful in sustaining the progress of our research program during these difficult economic times.”
All research grant applications are peer-reviewed by MDA’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Committees. The applications go through a rigorous process in which world-renowned experts in neuromuscular diseases assess the protocols and methods used by the applying scientists. MDA’s experts always consider the relevance of the applicant’s research to therapy development for over 40 neuromuscular diseases. Each year, about 500 researchers apply to MDA for research funding.
Founded in 1950, the Muscular Dystrophy Association is the nation’s largest non-governmental funder of research seeking treatments and cures for more than 40 neuromuscular diseases, including muscular dystrophy, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), and Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). The first nonprofit organization to be recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Medical Association (“for significant and lasting contributions to the health and welfare of humanity”), MDA also provides unparalleled health care services through its network of more than 200 hospital-affiliated clinics; advocates for the families it serves; and invests significant resources educating the medical and scientific communities, as well as the general public, about neuromuscular diseases affecting more than 1 million Americans. Thanks to decades of generous contributions from caring individuals, plus outstanding support received from local, regional and national sponsors, MDA is credited for its role in building the entire field of neuromuscular disease research, while simultaneously nurturing clinical care to significantly improve both quality and length of lives for those affected by neuromuscular diseases.
At University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, the MDA Clinic is directed by Katherine Mathews, M.D. The MDA Clinic at Iowa Health in Des Moines is directed by Calvin Jay Hensen, M.D.