Two Cleveland Clinic researchers were awarded multi-year grants by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), under its Outstanding Investigator Award, to find new treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS) and other complex diseases.
Bruce Trapp, PhD, an expert in myelin biology and MS, will receive about $7 million over eight years under the award, and Jaroslaw Maciejewski, MD, PhD, a specialist in blood and bone diseases, was be given $5.5 million over seven years.
These multi-million dollar federal awards support deserving investigators by providing the long-term funding needed to continue or embark on pioneering projects.
“These awards not only honor the remarkable work of these outstanding researchers, but will be a tremendous help in advancing discoveries that will ultimately benefit patients,” Serpil C. Erzurum, MD, chair of the Lerner Research Institute, said in a news release.
Trapp, chair of the Department of Neurosciences at the Lerner institute, will study the role of myelin, myelin-forming cells, and axons in MS with a goal of finding new therapeutic targets to prevent irreversible neurological disability in MS patients.
In 1998, Trapp led a team that discovered that in MS, immune cells attack not only the myelin sheath, but also the nerve fibers. With this discovery, scientists started to look at neurodegeneration — the death of nerve cells — as the cause of permanent neurological disability.
“We’ve made great progress uncovering the neurodegeneration that occurs with MS. Now our challenge is to develop therapies to stop or delay the progression of the disease,” Trapp said. “It’s a long road but this award gives us the flexibility to follow the results.”
Dr. Maciejewski, chair of the Department of Translational Hematology and Oncology Research at Cleveland Clinic, will work on translating the scientific progresses in bone marrow failure syndromes (BMFS) into improved patient care.
“The translation of scientific advances into improved patient care and cures has been the primary goal of my team’s work,” he said. “This award supports our belief that now is the time to advance translational findings to make progress in medical care, including diagnostics and therapeutics for BMFS.”
The Cleveland Clinic now has three researchers working under an NIH Outstanding Investigator Award. In 2015, $6.7 million was granted Jeremy Rich, MD, a researcher in the Department of Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine at the Lerner institute.