Posts Tagged ‘life science funding’

Low funding levels impede translation of stem cell research into therapy

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 05-26-2011

We’re so close, yet so far. Despite the many advances in stem cell research over the past decade, low funding of basic science research is making it difficult for scientists to move stem cell therapies from the bench to the bedside.

A new article published by Cell Press in the May 26 issue of the journal Neuron provides comprehensive insight into the current status of neural stem cell research and the sometimes labyrinthine pathways leading to stem cell-based therapies. The perspective on translating neural stem cell research into clinical therapeutics is part of a special issue of Neuron devoted to neural stem cells and neurogenesis and is published in collaboration with the May issue of Cell Stem Cell, which also has a selection of reviews on this topic.

Neurological disease and injury are a major cause of disability worldwide, and there is a pressing need to find reparative therapeutics for the central nervous system (CNS). Although stem cell therapies represent the frontier of regenerative medicine, the “bench to bedside” leap where scientific discoveries in the laboratory are translated to actual patient therapeutics faces many challenging hurdles.

“Stem cell research is one of the most rapidly developing areas of science and medicine,” says study author Dr. Sally Temple from the Neural Stem Cell Institute in Rensselaer, New York. “The explosive rise in discoveries and technologies that we see in the basic research labs has yet to enter the pipeline, and there is an enormous gap between what we can do at the bench and what we see in the current clinical trials. It is imperative that we work towards making the process of translation more effective and affordable.”

In their article, Dr. Temple and colleagues describe the current status of stem cell-based CNS therapies, analyze currently approved clinical trials, and discuss key issues associated with translational progress. The authors report that many basic scientists are struggling with low funding levels and that funding cutbacks substantially impede new research directions. They suggest that successfully transitioning from the lab to the clinics requires a comprehensive and collaborative team effort among researchers, clinicians, regulatory agencies, patient advocacy groups, ethics bodies, and industry, and they stress that pioneering this new partnership model is essential for smooth translational path that will improve the chance that the health benefits of research reach patients.

“There is no doubt that stem cell research and application is opening great opportunities in CNS regenerative therapies and, although our survey shows that we are still at relatively early stages of defining safety for human trials, stupendous strides are being made in preclinical studies,” says Dr. Temple. “However, we must engage basic researchers and their institutions to ensure that they participate in the rewards of successful translation and benefit from revenue return that will fund further creative discoveries. We envision a much more concerted effort towards translation that would make the process more accessible and efficient, forging new private/public partnerships that will spread both risks and benefits in the process. Ultimately, the rewards of solving this problem could be seen at every level, from the next generation of young scientists to the patients. We need to take steps soon, as the challenge posed by neurological disorders is growing.”

Source: Cell Press (via EurekAlert!)

How much money are your scientist colleagues making?

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 03-09-2011

As highly educated individuals, scientists are always wondering whether they are being fairly compensated for their hard work and many years of higher education (the answer is likely NOT). Instead of conducting a highly unscientific survey of your colleagues, be sure to participate in The Scientist’s 2011 salary survey to ensure accurate numbers that cover the broadest sample size possible.

The Scientist promises to break it down by life science specializations, geographic location, degree, job title and more. In return for your participation before June 24, 2011, they will enter you in a draw to win a $100 Amazon gift certificate.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

To participate visit The survey is only open to US life science residents.

If the answer turns out to be that you are underpaid, you can always heed ABBA’s advice and get yourself a wealthy man (or at least a private grant backer).

Huge Boost for Personalized Medicine at Johns Hopkins

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 01-04-2011

Liberty Media Corp. chairman and Johns Hopkins alumnus John C. Malone has given the university’s Whiting School of Engineering $30 million for a building where researchers will collaborate with colleagues from other Johns Hopkins divisions to learn to tailor therapies for individual patients and devise systems-based approaches to some of society’s biggest problems.

The gift, the largest ever to the Whiting School, will fund construction of a 56,000-square-foot research building on the university’s Homewood campus.

Malone Hall will house two planned interdisciplinary research efforts in which the Whiting School will have a leadership role: It will be the home of the Systems Institute and the Homewood base for Johns Hopkins’ emerging initiative in individualized health.

The initiative in individualized health is expected to bring together engineers, life scientists and medical researchers from across Johns Hopkins. They will focus on bringing information science into the practice of medicine, with an initial emphasis on cancer, in a manner that will allow an unprecedented focus on treatment designed for the individual patient. The approach grows out of the recognition that genetic and epigenetic differences among patients explain, at least in part, why traditionally developed drugs help some people and not others.

For more information see the JHU Gazette

American biologists to be spared wrath of grant cutting public

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 12-13-2010

Talk about armchair politics! In a tax-saving initiative dubbed “YouCut,” Republican Majority Leader-Elect Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Nebraska congressman Adrian Smith invite the public to identify National Science Foundation (NSF) grants that are wasteful or that they feel are not a good use of taxpayer dollars. The YouCut webpage includes a link to a list of NSF funded project and an online form that visitors can fill out with “wasteful” grant ID numbers.

The good news for the American Biotechnologist community is that congressman Smith’s message is clearly not directed at the biological sciences which he refers to as “worthy research in the hard sciences.” However, those engaged in social science or psychology beware! The House is out to get you!

In a thought provoking blog post, NewScientist points out that some of the “wasteful” grants cited by congressman Smith (such as $750,000 to develop computer models to analyze the on-field contributions of soccer players) are actually rooted in “hard science” and will become unfortunate casualties of this battle against wasteful spending.

While most of us would agree that scientists should be given the intellectual freedom to pursue their research as they see fit, I would argue that not all research projects are worthy of being funded by public tax dollars. Congress is now opening up the floor for public input into the matter. If you do vote, please be sure to do your homework and vote responsibly. Also, be sure to let us know which grants you’ve voted against or if there are any non-NSF funded research projects that you believe should never receive public funding.

Rock Stars of Science

 :: Posted by American Biotechnologist on 08-22-2010

Research America is an advocacy group that aims to increase funding to and awareness of medical research throughout the country. Some of their activities include annual polls on Americans’ perception of health care and scientific research funding, media kits for reporting on health care and research and general coverage of medical research policy issues.

According to Mary Woolley, President and CEO of Research America, polls conducted by the organization show that although Americans value medical research they are generally unaware of progress in the field which is reflected in the fact that most “cannot name a living scientist.” The conflict between what Americans value as important and what they actually know about medical research helped inspire the Rock Stars of Science campaign. The event paired musical celebrities with scientific geniuses in an event that was a true tribute to the scientific community.

In the clip below Joe Perry of Aerosmith performs a musical tribute to Congressional champions of research with National Institutes of Health director Francis Collins, MD, PhD, on guitar, Harvard neuroscientist Rudy Tanzi, PhD, on harmonica, Joe Ryan, PhD of the National Human Genome Research Institute on drums and David Hull of the Joe Perry Project on bass. The video was unveiled at a Capitol Hill event celebrating Rock Stars of Science, a campaign launched by the Geoffrey Beene Foundation.

A great day out of the lab indeed!

Video credit: David Carlin King,