Bethesda, Md. - The National Blood Foundation (NBF) Board of Trustees recently announced the recipients of the 2011 NBF Scientific Research Grants. Each grant recipient will receive up to $75,000 to pursue either a one- or two-year research project in transfusion medicine or cellular therapies. NBF has awarded more than $7 million in grants since 1985 to 171 early-career researchers. This year's recipients are: Attilio Bondanza, MD, PhD; Mettine H.A. Bos, PhD; Swapan Kumar Dasgupta, PhD; Eldad A. Hod, MD; Katherine C. MacNamara, PhD; and Nilam Mangalmurti, MD.
"The NBF's research grant program is key to supporting early-career researchers involved in the field of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies," said Connie Westhoff, PhD, chair of NBF's Grants Review Committee. "By providing grant funding, the NBF is helping to ensure young research professionals have the ability to explore diverse, cutting-edge topics that can one day lead to improved patient and donor care and safety."
Proposals for NBF grants are evaluated on the basis of their scientific merit and relevance to and impact on transfusion medicine, cellular therapies and science. NBF scientific research grants are made possible by contributions from NBF's Council on Research and Development (CORD) members and its NBF Partners, along with gifts from individuals, institutions and foundations.
The following are synopses of the six funded proposals:
Attilio Bondanza, MD, PhD, San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Italy
Using genetic redirection to teach immune cells to attack tumors.
Multiple myeloma, a cancer arising from plasma cells, is the second most common hematologic malignancy, constituting 1 percent of all cancers. Clinical experience with long-term survival after allogeneic HSC transplantation suggests that promising results against multiple myeloma may be achieved through a T cell-mediated immunologic mechanism. Bondanza and colleagues propose to conduct preclinical validation of a novel cell therapy strategy for multiple myeloma treatment based on the genetic redirection of T cells against the tumor antigen CD44v6.
Mettine H.A. Bos, PhD, Leiden University Medical Center, Einthoven Laboratory for Experimental Vascular Medicine, the Netherlands
Learning more about the mechanisms that drive enzyme-cofactor complexes during coagulation.
Clotting factors are integral to the blood coagulation process, and disorders in clotting factors can lead to life- threatening bleeding disorders. In some cases, clotting factors work together, such as the enzyme factor X and its cofactor, factor V. Bos and coworkers propose to investigate the molecular mechanisms that regulate the assembly of enzyme-cofactor complexes driving blood coagulation.
Swapan Kumar Dasgupta, PhD, Baylor College of Medicine
Investigating a mechanism to improve the lifespan of stored platelets.
Stored platelets undergo changes collectively referred to as the platelet storage lesion. One of the changes is the exposure of the anionic phospholipid phosphatidylserine, or PS, on the cell surface, a hallmark of apoptosis (cell death). Platelets exposing PS are rapidly cleared from circulation, suggesting that this exposure is a signal that prompts macrophages to rid the body of these cells. Dasgupta and colleagues propose that inhibiting PS exposure may help increase the storage time and in vivo recovery of stored platelets.
Eldad A. Hod, MD, Columbia University Medical Center
Determining the long-term effects of repeated blood donation on the donor.
The long-term effects of blood donation on certain disease processes are unknown; however, some researchers have suggested that donation may be cardioprotective and others have proposed that it may reduce the risk of development of certain cancers. Hod will use a mouse model of blood donation that he previously developed to further investigate whether there may be benefits of phlebotomy over time.
Katherine C. MacNamara, PhD, Albany Medical College
Examining the role(s) of interferon-gamma signaling in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells.
Interferon-gamma, or IFN-gamma, is a cytokine known for being a suppressor of hematopoiesis. However, recent studies suggest that its roles in the blood system are more complex. Based on her earlier research, MacNamara postulates that IFN-gamma acts differently in less differentiated cells — hematopoietic stem cells and progenitor cells — than in more mature cells, where most previous research on its activity has been conducted. With this NBF grant, MacNamara and colleagues propose to determine the molecular mechanisms that regulate IFN-gamma signaling in distinct populations of HSCs and progenitor cells.
Nilam Mangalmurti, MD, University of Pennsylvania
Reducing a factor in stored red blood cells that may lead to lung injury.
Observational studies have found that transfusion of stored red blood cells is associated with multiple adverse outcomes, including increased length of hospital stay, prolonged time on ventilator, infections and mortality. Lung injury, independent of transfusion-related acute lung injury, can occur in critically ill patients receiving RBCs. Mangalmurti and colleagues have recently shown that one consequence of RBC storage may be the formation of advanced glycation end-products, or AGEs, on erythrocyte membranes, and that RBCs that have undergone AGE modification can induce oxidative damage in lung cells through a receptor for AGE. With this NBF grant, she proposes to investigate the mechanism of AGE formation on RBCs and look for ways to prevent it.
About 2012 Scientific Research Grant Applications
NBF is currently accepting scientific research grant applications. Grant applications are available on the NBF Web page (www.aabb.org/nbf), or by contacting NBF at +1.301.215.6552 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications must be received by December 30, 2011. Grant awards will be announced in June 2012 and funded in early July. NBF, a program of AABB that was established in 1983, is dedicated to advancing transfusion medicine and cellular therapies by funding scientific research that benefits patients and donors with a focus on early-career researchers and novel approaches.
AABB is an international, not-for-profit association representing individuals and institutions involved in the field of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies. The association is committed to improving health by developing and delivering standards, accreditation and educational programs that focus on optimizing patient and donor care and safety. AABB membership consists of nearly 2,000 institutions and 8,000 individuals, including physicians, nurses, scientists, researchers, administrators, medical technologists and other health care providers. Members are located in more than 80 countries. For more information, please visit www.aabb.org.