Department of Defense To Open Grant Application Cycle for ALS Research

Department of Defense To Open Grant Application Cycle for ALS Research

shutterstock_156885317On February 23rd, the office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) released a pre-announcement through the Department of Defense Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Research Program (ALSRP) for the opening of the FY15 appropriations grant application cycle.  This pre-announcement is meant to give investigators the opportunity to begin preparations for submitting their applications through this highly competitive process with the purpose of supporting innovative, high-impact Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive disease that attacks the nerve cells that control muscular actions such as walking and respiration. Patients diagnosed with the disease will have increasing problems with breathing, swallowing, and speaking or forming words. In the late stages of the disease, patients rely solely on caretaker assistance for all their needs. ALS is a terminal diagnosis in which most patients die from respiratory failure within 2 to 5 years.

ALSRP’s aims are to find new therapeutic treatment options for those diagnosed with this debilitating and deadly neurological disease, with the particular needs of the men and women who have served in the US Armed Forces in mind.

“There is growing excitement in the ALS field, a sense that we are on the cusp of really understanding what causes this form of neurodegeneration. The next challenge will be to translate these findings to help people with this devastating disease. The DoD ALSRP provides invaluable leadership and support to research efforts that may one day lead to effective treatments.”  Bryan Traynor, M.B., M.D., Ph.D., MMSc, MRCPI, Investigator and Chief of the Neuromuscular Diseases Research Unit, Laboratory of Neurogenetics, National Institute on Aging.

The ALSRP is funded by the FY15 Defense Appropriations Act, which has allocated $7.5 million to the program. There are two types of awards that investigators can apply for:

  1. Therapeutic Development Award: supports post-discovery and preclinical development ALS therapies.
  2. Therapeutic Idea Award: supports testable ideas for drug and drug target discovery efforts that focus on ALS.

All independent investigators at every academic level are eligible to apply.  The awards are for upwards of a $1 million (between $500,000-$1,000,000) for direct costs to be disbursed over a two year period.

When asked about the importance of this research award, Brent Harris, M.D., Ph.D., FCAP, Associate Professor and Director of Neuropathology at Georgetown University Medical Center, FY13 Therapeutic Idea Award Peer Review Chair, stated “Fighting ALS is a team endeavor involving family, friends, clinicians, scientists, policy makers, and, at the center, people with ALS. I am privileged to be part of this fight while teaching students about the disease, making new discoveries in the lab, and caring for ALS patients. In addition, I have been honored to serve on and chair the ALS Therapeutic Idea Award peer review panel together with other committed scientists and lay people. Together, we have carefully reviewed, critiqued, and recommended the most compelling, innovative, and impactful scientific projects to move discoveries forward quickly for new therapeutics to treat and cure ALS.”

FY15 ALSRP Program Announcements and General Application Instructions are anticipated to be posted on the Grants.gov website in April 2015.

The CDMRP maintains a very insightful frequently asked questions page concerning the awards that can be found here: https://ebrap.org/eBRAP/public/FAQ.htm;jsessionid=B0FBF76AF5D6FD8A055D0A51676C7339 

About the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

The office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) manages Congressional Special Interest Medical Research Programs (CSI) encompassing breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers, neurofibromatosis, military health, and other specified areas. Since fiscal year 1992, the CDMRP has managed approximately over $7.7 billion in Congressional appropriations for peer-reviewed research aimed to prevent, control, and cure disease. Through fiscal year 2013, approximately 12,423 awards have been made to advance health care solutions via extramural grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements.

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