• The Healey Scholars Program: Request for Applicants

    Due date for nominations is January 15, 2021

    The Healey Scholars Program will empower young investigators to learn how to develop new treatments for people living with ALS. This two-year program is designed to engage clinician-scientists and post-doctoral fellows to gain training and experience in therapy development for ALS at their home institution with the optional industry experience in year two. All Healey Scholars will be part of the broader Healey & AMG Center’s global community. By engaging motivated and creative individuals with a passion for bringing treatments to people living with ALS, we will expand the community of experts and expedite therapy development. We believe strongly in identifying, supporting, and mentoring the next generation of researchers continuing this tradition through our Healey Scholars Program. Click here to visit our website.

    Healey Scholars will be an integral member of the Healey & AMG Center for ALS at Mass General and will benefit from mentorship by world renowned scientists and clinicians. While working closely with their mentors at their home institution, the Scholars will also attend Healey Center meetings and learn first-hand approaches to therapy development. Importantly, Scholars will have the opportunity to engage with people living with ALS. In addition, successful candidates interested in understanding the drug development process from an industry perspective, will benefit from an optional six-month internship in industry during the second year of their scholarship.

    Award Details

     2 years of funding to support a clinician-scientist or post-doctoral fellow working in the ALS field anywhere in the world.
     $150,000 award/funding year
     Recipient must commit at least 75% effort to the proposed ALS research plan


    Candidates with Ph.D. or M.D. with strong publication record. International applicants are encouraged to apply.
    The ALS focused proposal must have a strong scientific rationale and should be largely developed by the fellow with guidance from his/her mentor
    Eligibility for this award is based on the date the candidate attained their specialist qualification. Scholars will be considered if they have completed their specialist qualification (i.e., US Residency; Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, etc.) no more than 5 years prior to the start of this award.

    Application Due Dates:

    Release of RFA: November 2, 2020

    Applications Due: January 15, 2021

    Notification of Award: March 2021

    Initiation of Award*: July 1, 2021 (flexible once contracts signed)

    *Note: Once the award has been finalized the Healey Center for ALS will work with the successful candidate to secure an industry internship in the second year of the fellowship.

    For queries contact: HealeyCenterforALS@mgh.harvard.edu

    To download an application form: click here

  • CERF Medical Prize

    The Cullen Education and Research Fund

    CERF is a private family philanthropic project with two main areas of focus:

    1. To support and encourage research into:
    (a) a cure for Motor Neuron Disease / amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
    (b) technologies to improve the living conditions of those with the disease.

    2. To fund third level education in Ireland for outstanding students who are in need of financial assistance.

    CERF Award for MND/ALS

    The Fund has decided to promote research into aspects of muscle atrophy and loss of functionality associated with motor neuron disease / amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (MND/ALS) with a prestigious award and a prize of €1M.

    The €1 Million Cullen Education and Research Fund Prize aims to facilitate a more normal lifestyle for people with MND/ALS while - ideally - extending life expectancy.

    The judging panel will consider any solution that gives an ALS patient independence and allows them to breathe, walk, talk, lift a coffee, drive a car and otherwise operate independently. The CERF prize will catalyze development of new approaches to preserve or improve function by any means, including - but not limited to - biological, chemical, mechanical or electrical.

    Motor Neuron Disease, also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a global disease in which an affected person loses muscle strength, which leads, in turn, to reduced function.

    What are we looking for?

    The key goal of the CERF Prize 1 initiative is to find a successful approach to improve usable muscle strength in MND/ALS patients. We want:

    • Approaches that stop muscle wasting indefinitely and restore usefulness.
    • Approaches that could also prolong life.
    • Approaches that are biologic, mechanical, electrical, etc. There are no limitations on eligible ideas.
    • We have a preference for approaches that are long lasting.

    NB: The ability of the entrants to achieve sustained improvement in strength, function or wasting will be assessed by a panel of people living with MND, caregivers and scientists.

    Competition Timeline

    September 30th 2020 – Application Deadline

    • Download the application form from the Applications page. Your application must include a brief outline of your proposal to solve this challenge, and emailed to applications@cerfprize.com .
    • Once you have submitted your initial application, you will be provided with a confidentiality agreement and once all parties have signed, we will request a more detailed project proposal.

    31st December 2020 - Full Submission Deadline

    • Entrants are asked to submit a detailed project entry by December 31st 2020.
    • The submission must consist of a written presentation and may, if desired, include a visual presentation also (ie. video, slideshow etc.).
    • Entrants are expected to have begun testing their solution, where possible, by this time.
    • The most promising entries will be invited to present their work to the judging panel in early 2021.

    Things to note:

    • While the prize will not be awarded before December 31st 2020, we reserve the right to award it at any time from that date should the panel feel that the challenge has been sufficiently met.
    • We reserve the right not to award the prize, should the panel feel that no project has sufficiently met the prize challenge.
    • Entrants are welcome to approach us to discuss their projects during the development stage - ie. after initial submission and before the Full Submission Deadline. Smaller laboratories and individual entrants may apply for support from CERF in order to develop their projects.

    For more information, please visit the CERF Medical Prize website.

  • MDA Request for Applications: Drug Development in Neuromuscular Disease

    MDA Venture Philanthropy

    MDA Venture Philanthropy (MVP) is the Muscular Dystrophy Association's drug development program, which operates within MDA's Translational Research program. MVP is exclusively focused on funding the discovery and clinical application of treatments and cures for neuromuscular diseases.

    Adapting elements of the venture capital model, the MVP business plan is characterized by an emphasis on measurable results along with deep involvement by its scientific and industry advisers. MVP evaluates and makes targeted investments in for-profit and not-for-profit companies and academics developing therapeutics for neuromuscular diseases.

    Building upon MDA's long-term investment in research and health care, MVP is designed to complement MDA's ongoing programs of health care, lifesaving services, advocacy, basic and clinical research, and professional and public health information. MVP also benefits from MDA's other research programs that support basic research, clinical trials and research infrastructure.

    Business Plan

    A strategy for lowering barriers to therapeutic development: MVP leverages MDA's years of expertise in research into nerve and muscle biology to create a unique environment to foster translation of research into therapies. Dedicated staff scientists track research developments from MDA's basic research program and from the scientific community as a whole and match the most promising ideas with drug development companies capable of developing such therapies. Where companies have promising therapeutics, MVP helps match the company with disease experts to expedite and streamline development. Where academic projects need more data before they will be attractive to a corporate partner, MVP helps match the researcher with experts in drug development. As a "partner" and not just a funder, MVP will help to cultivate follow-on investors, while its access to patients, experts and research infrastructure can offset some costs of drug development.  

    Bridging the high-risk stages of therapy development: MVP makes targeted investments in projects for which the therapeutic of interest is unlikely to advance via traditional funding avenues due to the perceived risk of a small market, lack of a clear regulatory path or new technology. MVP funds are leveraged to aid getting projects through the critical stages of development to ensure that successful therapies attract funding from other sources and get to market. Co-investors and follow-on funders with complementary skills are cultivated actively in the form of venture capital groups, other nonprofits, and larger biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. Exit points for MVP funding may include the situations in which 1) a therapeutic progresses to phase III or is approved; or 2) significant funding from follow-on investor(s) is received. Return on investment strategies for MVP may include revenue sharing from licensing agreements or commercialization of the therapeutic, or less commonly, sales of preferred stock.

    MVP uses elements of the venture capital model: MVP uses an iterative evaluation process that reviews the science, management, financials, legal issues and intellectual property of the company or project. MVP holds monthly teleconferences open to its advisers at which decisions to advance projects to the next stage of evaluation are made. In addition to the diverse qualifications of MVP's program staff, advisory committees and ad hoc scientific experts, MVP may utilize well-established outside contractors for formal financial and legal diligence. MVP manages its grants as if they were investments such that funding commitments are structured as milestone-driven contracts.

    A unique blend of staff, contractors and volunteers: MVP has access to a unique set of expertise that it uses to select projects to invest in and to manage those projects. The scientific advisers consist of experts in neuromuscular disease research, neuromuscular medicine, biotechnology venture capital investment and drug development. MVP staff scientists work with these volunteers to select projects with the best possible chance of success, and to act as advisers as those projects move forward. MVP uses its business advisers and outside contractors for legal and financial diligence and for contract negotiation, ensuring that MVP invests only in projects likely to have the greatest possible impact. The business advisers are volunteers with expertise in mergers and acquisitions, biotechnology investing, investment banking and corporate development.

    For information, visit the MDA website: https://www.mda.org/research/mda-venture-philanthropy