SEATTLE, Washington, JUNE 27, 2011-- The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) today announced awards to three multi-institutional teams to support development of improved therapies and key resources for medical researchers and health-care policymakers. LSDF will allocate up to $8 million among the three programs.
The programs will be led by University of Washington investigators in partnership with collaborators across the state. Dr. David Flum will work with health-care providers, insurers, and information technology experts to create databases of clinical practices, patient outcomes, and medical costs that can be used to assess the comparative effectiveness and cost effectiveness of specific health-care strategies. This work builds upon an LSDF project grant that Dr. Flum received in 2007.
A second program, led by Dr. Michael Schwartz, will develop new human stem cell-based treatments for type 1 diabetes that avoid the problems of tumor formation and immune rejection that have previously limited the use of such therapies. The research team anticipates that their treatment approach can ultimately be applied to other diseases.
The third program, directed by Dr. John Slattery, will establish a system for collection and statewide distribution of human biological specimens required to answer important research questions and ultimately improve disease diagnosis and treatment. The specimens will be linked to biologically relevant data on the donors, and the program will be constructed to protect patient privacy and rights. This program will complement the cancer biospecimen resource that Dr. Peggy Porter of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is developing under an LSDF 2009 program grant.
The three awards were made in the 2010 program grant competition, which supports the launch of new collaborative initiatives that address major health problems and position organizations for future competitiveness and leadership.
According to LSDF executive director Lee Huntsman, the new cohort of awards is anticipated to reap health and economic impacts that are broad in both magnitude and scope. "In addition to improving treatment of a specific condition--namely, type 1 diabetes--these grants will create robust resources to accelerate development of diagnostics and therapies for a multitude of diseases."
Huntsman added that "the grant to Dr. Flum will allow Washington's health-care community to answer vital questions regarding the value of various treatments and determine the best uses of our limited health-care dollars."
The LSDF board of trustees selected the awardees from 11 proposals that were evaluated by national experts convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In a highly competitive two-phase process, proposals were rated on scientific merit and the potential to improve health and health care in Washington and provide statewide economic benefit.
Lura Powell, chair of the LSDF board of trustees, noted that the impact of the new awards would likely be felt throughout Washington. "These grants support cutting-edge research as well as widespread distribution of high-quality specimens and health-care data. Together, they will help ensure that our state maintains its leadership position in medical research and delivery of cost-effective health care."
Funding for program grant awards comes from Washington's allocation of payments under the Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement of 1998, revenues arising from multi-state litigation with tobacco product manufacturers.