The Children’s Tumor Foundation is the leading nongovernmental funding source of NF research in the world. Through the implementation of the Foundation’s research awards, progress is being made on all fronts and for all types of NF. The Foundation’s Research Awards Program funds investigator-initiated awards to support NF research. The program is comprised of three award mechanisms: the Young Investigator Award (YIA), which funds basic science, the Drug Discovery Initiative (DDI), which funds translational science (the development of new screening models and compound screens), and the Clinical Research Award (CRA), which funds small-scale clinical trials and clinical trial adjunct studies.
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CTF’s longest running program, the YIA provides two-year funding, commensurate with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to young scientists early in their careers, bringing them into the NF field and helping to establish them as independent investigators. Initiated in 1985 by the Foundation, the YIA program was, until 2006, CTF’s sole ongoing grant mechanism. A number of YIAs have made significant research findings and notable publications through this program. In addition, the YIA program has been a 'seeding mechanism' for researchers and their mentors, who could showcase their Foundation-funded research to secure larger grants from the NIH and the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program - Neurofibromatosis Research Program (CDMRP-NFRP). CTF’s seeding of the NF field with new talent has been hailed as a key reason for the rapid growth of NF research in recent years.
The DDI Awards program was designed to provide a critical early-stage doorway to the NF preclinical pipeline. These small scale awards, with a quick application and turn-around process, allow us to fuel the therapeutic pipeline for a relatively small investment. Researchers can quickly screen novel compounds in both in vitro and in vivo models - $40K for in vitro studies, and $85K for in vivo studies. Researchers are encouraged to make their tools (candidate drugs, animal models, cell lines, etc.) publicly available for collaboration with other researchers.
The Clinical Research Award program supports early stage pilot clinical trials of candidate therapeutics, or interventions for treatment of manifestations of NF1, NF2, and schwannomatosis. These small, open label (i.e. patients know they are receiving the drug) Phase 0 and Phase I trials are expected to generate data that will lead to further Phase II and Phase III trials of promising compounds. This grant mechanism also includes adjunct studies, such as the development of biomarkers, imaging protocols, and other clinical trial tools.