Telegram: UMMS looks beyond the NIH for biomedical research funding

By Jim Fessenden

UMass Medical School Communications

May 19, 2014

Biomedical scientists at UMass Medical School are turning to private foundations and industry as a way to counter declining funds available from the National Institutes of Health, the largest financial supporter of life-saving medical research, according to an article in the Sunday Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Michael R. Green, MD, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Lambi and Sarah Adams Chair in Genetic Research, professor of molecular medicine and biochemistry & molecular pharmacology, and director of the Program in Gene Function and Expression, told the Telegram & Gazette that research funds are tight and that it’s difficult to get funding for new and innovative research through the NIH. Dr. Green recently received a $750,000 three-year grant from the Rett Syndrome Research Trust for his work on Rett syndrome, a disabling disorder on the autism spectrum that is caused by a gene mutation.

Jean A. King, PhD, professor of psychiatry and associate provost for biomedical research, said the hunt for money can distract researchers.

“You have to figure out six ways to fund it,” she told the Telegram. “You’re taking away action to do the work, because you’re trying to figure out how to fund the work.”

One consequence of changing federal funding levels has been to steer scientists, and those who judge the grant applications, toward projects with better odds of succeeding. Dale Greiner, PhD, the Dr. Eileen L. Berman and Stanley I. Berman Foundation Chair in Biomedical Research and professor of molecular medicine said, “The bulk of what NIH funds is what I would call incremental science,” he said “That’s not how breakthroughs in science come.”

Read the full story on the Worcester Telegram & Gazette website.

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