Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meeting of the minds for MPD researchers

MPD Foundation grantees meet at ASH
The annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology takes place each year in early December.  For the past 2 years the MPD Foundation has exhibited, distributing our free patient brochure as well as speaking with hematologists who specialize in MPDs about treatments and patient numbers.  During these events we also take time to meet face to face with MPD researchers who have been awarded or applied for our grants.  This past December we had the opportunity to meet with our current Research Alliance and New Investigator grantees in New Orleans.  

The MPD Foundation believes collaboration is an essential ingredient for accelerating the rate of progress for medical research.  The academic research environment often presents barriers to sharing insights and open communication among researchers who may be in competition with potential collaborators.  However, at ASH we found fewer barriers to communication among our New Investigators as Drs. Delhommeau, Kralovics and Braun (Dr. Sipkins could not attend) communicated freely among one another, discussing research progress and findings.  

In 2011 the MPD Foundation will be awarding new grants and once again emphasizing collaboration along with science that will drive treatments forward.  With each series of grantees we learn more about what it takes to emphasize what MPD patients need from medical research and science.  Right now it appears that organic collaborations are most effective in creating real communication between scientists.  It is this sharing of information that we think will accelerate the understanding of MPDs and bring about better and more treatments. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

MPD Foundation distributes brochures through NORD's Medical Meetings initiative

The mission of the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) is to assist individuals with rare disorders through advocacy, funding research and promoting networking among individuals and organizations interested in orphan disorders.  We at the MPD Foundation are always looking for ways to tell people the story of myeloproliferative disorders and reach more patients.  As such, in 2010 MPD Foundation became a member of NORD.  We feel being a part of this group will help us learn about the issues specific to orphan diseases and learn how other organizations operate and spread awareness. 

A benefit of membership in NORD is participation in their Medical Meetings initiative.  As part of this program NORD collects and distributes brochures of member organizations to pertinent meetings.  The MPD Foundation utilized this service by forwarding the MPD patient brochure to various meetings, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting that recently took place in Chicago.  

It can be difficult to connect with doctors - general practitioners and hematologists - who may see patients with a MPD.  We consider this an opportunity to educate the physician community about MPDs in the hopes that they in turn pass this information on to patients who need it. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Challenge Grants

Requests for proposals (RFP) for MPD Foundation's 2010 Challenge Grant program left the office in May, making their way into the hands of researchers actively involved with or thinking about getting into the world of myeloproliferative disorders. MPD Foundation grant programs have gone through several incarnations that illustrate how our priorities have changed as we learn more.

The MPD Research Alliance was our collaborative program aimed at accelerating development of new treatments following the 2005 discovery of the JAK2 mutation associated with MPDs. In 2008 a category of grant was added that recognized the need for funding of researchers new to MPDs. We are proud that the New Investigator grant program has been enormously successful.

In 2011 the MPD Foundation will award a new set of grants through our 2010 Challenge Grant program. The goal is to focus on both basic and translational research. This grant program is following up on the new and intriguing discoveries upon which we hope new treatments can be discovered.

This new grant program is consistent with our role as a patient-driven organization.  Our intention is to explore all options that could lead to discoveries that benefit patients with myelofibrosis, polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia.  In that sense we are ourselves constantly challenging the idea that a motivated group of individuals can't make a difference. We can't wait to see how the new group of MPD researchers will challenge themselves with these new grant proposals.