Bethesda, Md. - The National Blood Foundation (NBF) Board of Trustees recently announced the recipients of the 2012 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. The NBF has awarded approximately $7.5 million in grants since 1985 to 177 early-career researchers. This year's recipients are Stephanie Eisenbarth, MD, PhD; Michael J. Nemeth, PhD; Anand Padmanabhan, MD, PhD; Tracey L. Papenfuss, DVM, MS, PhD; Henrique Veiga-Fernandes, DVM, PhD; and Jianhua Yu, PhD.
"The National Blood Foundation and the grants it awards are essential components of generating and maintaining cutting edge research in transfusion medicine and cellular therapies," said James Zimring, MD, PhD, chair of the NBF's Grants Review Committee. "By providing support to young investigators interested in the field, the NBF fills a fundamental role, investing in both the next generation of transfusion researchers and the next generation of new knowledge and the medical advances to which they lead."
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 Council on Research and Development (CORD) members and NBF Partners, along with gifts from individuals, institutions and foundations.
The following are synopses of the six funded proposals:
Stephanie Eisenbarth, MD, PhD, Yale University, Laboratory Medicine and Internal Medicine
Identifying Innate Immune System Pathways Critical for RBC Alloimmunization
Every unit of allogeneic red blood cells, or RBCs, contains numerous antigens that are foreign to the recipient of the transfusion. Why do some, but not all patients, become alloimmunized after transfusion? Under this NBF grant, Eisenbarth and colleagues will examine the very early stages after transfusion of allogeneic RBCs, seeking to "nail down the critical antigen-presenting cell that dictates when you get an alloimmune T-cell response to RBCs," she said.
Michael J. Nemeth, PhD, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Department of Medicine
Improving Bone Marrow Transplantation Through Targeting Hematopoietic Stem Cell Quiescence
An ongoing challenge in the field of bone marrow transplantation, or BMT, is managing the toxic side effects of the conditioning regimen — the myeloablative drugs or radiation — given to prepare the host tissue for transplant. But reducing the dose of conditioning agents can result in inefficient engraftment of donor hematopoietic stem cells, or HSCs. With his NBF grant, Nemeth hopes to make the clinical application of BMT more tolerable for patients and increase the patient base that can benefit from the therapy.
Anand Padmanabhan, MD, PhD, BloodCenter of Wisconsin
Role of IgA and IgM Immunoglobulins in Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia and Thrombosis
Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia and thrombosis, or HIT, is a serious side effect of heparin administration that occurs in a small percentage of patients exposed to this widely used anticoagulant. How this immunologic response is triggered is not fully understood. Padmanabhan and colleagues aim to study the mechanism by which it occurs.
Tracey L. Papenfuss, DVM, MS, PhD, The Ohio State University, Department of Veterinary Biosciences
Development of Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cell Therapy for the Treatment of Inflammatory Disease
Inflammation helps to maintain and restore the body's homeostasis, but dysregulated, chronic inflammation contributes to the development and progression of many diseases. Under this NBF grant, Papenfuss and colleagues propose to generate a certain type of immunoregulatory immune cells in vitro to investigate their use in treating inflammatory disease.
Henrique Veiga-Fernandes, DVM, PhD, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Immunobiology Unit; Lisbon, Portugal
Modulation of RET Signaling in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
Challenges in HSC transplantation include poor engraftment efficiency and low yield of HSCs from sources such as cord blood. Therefore, finding new biological targets that promote HSC engraftment or sustained HSC survival is an important goal in transfusion medicine and cellular therapy. Veiga-Fernandes and colleagues hypothesize that the neurotrophin receptor RET is critical to HSC function, and they propose to study its effect in mouse and human cells.
Jianhua Yu, PhD, The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center
Preclinical Studies of the Combination of Recombinant Human FLT3 Ligand and AMD3100 to Mobilize Allogeneic Blood Cell Grafts for Transplantation
Peripheral blood stem cell mobilization by granulocyte colony stimulating factor is the most common method used to collect donor HSCs for transplantation. However, this method of mobilizing HSCs has been associated with a high risk of chronic graft-versus-host disease, or GVHD, and, in young patients and those with severe aplastic anemia, worse survival. Yu and colleagues propose to investigate the use of two clinical-grade drugs, Flt3 ligand and plerixafor, to mobilize a more favorable balance of HSC, conventional T-cells, regulatory T-cells and natural killer, or NK, cells. They theorize that this approach will optimize favorable graft-versus-leukemia effects while mitigating deleterious GVHD reactions.
Application Submission Process
The NBF is currently accepting 2013 scientific research grant applications. Grant applications are available on the NBF Web page (www.aabb.org/nbf), or by contacting the NBF at +1.301.215.6552 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications must be received by Dec. 30, 2012. Grant awards will be announced in June 2013 and funded in early July. Additionally, AABB is offering a complimentary audioconference titled "How to Get That NBF Grant," to be held on Nov. 28, which will explain the NBF grant application process for those wishing to apply. Visit www.aabb.org/events/audioconferences to register.
About The National Blood Foundation
The National Blood Foundation (NBF), established in 1983, has a history of supporting research and education that advances transfusion medicine and cellular therapies by funding scientific research that benefits patients and donors. Funds are raised annually from corporations, blood centers, foundations and individuals by the NBF for the National Blood Foundation Research and Education Trust Fund (NBFRET) and the NBF. The NBF and NBFRET, which are 501(c)(3) organizations, provide grants for scientific research in the field of transfusion medicine and cellular therapies and support educational initiatives that benefit this community. Since 1983, the NBF has distributed approximately $7.5 million to 177 early-career scientists.
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, visit www.aabb.org.