The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation
Pinnacle Program Project Award
Smith Family Foundation and the American Diabetes Association Award Excellence in Diabetes Research
Five Boston-Area Scientists Receive The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation Pinnacle Program Project Award
(Boston, MA) November 4, 2003 -- The American Diabetes Association (ADA) Research Foundation today announced that Joel Hirschhorn, MD, PhD, of Children's Hospital Boston (principal investigator); David Altshuler, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital; Mark Daly, BS, of the Whitehead Institute for Biological Research; Todd Golub, MD, of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute; and Gary Ruvkun, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, received the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation Pinnacle Program Project Award for their study of the contributing genetic causes of obesity and diabetes in humans. This premier award supports investigators who are developing basic science, clinical and translational research aimed at better understanding or preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. The Pinnacle Program Project Award was established to provide grant support to stimulate new collaborations between investigators working on independent but complementary research projects in diabetes. These investigators may exist in different departments in the same academic/research institution or may be located at different research institutions. The grant, totaling $1.5 million, began September 1, 2003 and continues through August 31, 2005 and may be renewed for a second two-year period. The Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation established the first ADA Pinnacle Program Project in the nation.
The American Diabetes Association funds research aimed at preventing and curing diabetes, as well as research designed to help people with diabetes live longer, healthier, more normal lives. The goal of the ADA research program is to leverage its investment in research to achieve the greatest possible benefit for people with diabetes. In funding innovative research such as that led by this group, the research program supports research projects that cover the spectrum of diabetes-related investigation.
To receive the Smith Family Foundation Pinnacle Program Project Award, each investigator submitted an independent research grant application, including additional details about how his or her project complements those of other applicants under the umbrella of a unifying theme.
"We're delighted to have been chosen for this award and are very grateful to the ADA and the Smith Family Foundation. This funding will allow us to search for genes and pathways that are altered in patients with type 2 diabetes and obesity," said Joel Hirschhorn, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the umbrella project. "Our team consists of several young investigators who are leaders in genetics and genomics, and we are each excited to work collaboratively towards the goal of advancing diabetes prevention and treatment."
Pinnacle Awards are designed to encourage and enable collaboration across several scientific disciplines. This group's Pinnacle Award funds an umbrella project entitled "Systematic identification of pathways contributing to diabetes and obesity in human patients," and includes the projects listed below. Detailed profiles are also available.
Massachusetts General Hospital
"Pathway genetics in C. elegans" - Gary Ruvkun, PhD
Dana Farber Cancer Institute
"Pathway profiling in clinical samples and mammalian cells" - Todd Golub, MD
Massachusetts General Hospital
"Genetic analysis of type 2 diabetes" - David Altshuler, MD, PhD
Children's Hospital Boston
"Human genetics of obesity" - Joel Hirschhorn, MD, PhD
Whitehead Institute for Biological Research
"Data Integration and statistical genetics" (Data Integration Core) - Mark Daly, BS
"We've seen a dramatic increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the last decade, and we need more resources in the fight against this often preventable disease," said Terrance Gregg, Chair, American Diabetes Association Research Foundation. "Thanks to the Smith Family Foundation's generous support, we can help direct valuable funds to projects such as these that could truly benefit the diabetes community."
"The Smith Foundation Pinnacle Award is unique in that it encourages several scientists, working in diverse disciplines, to collaborate and move forward toward a common goal," said Richard Smith, Co-Chairman of the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation. "This group in Boston represents the cutting edge of diabetes science, and we're excited about the new inroads they could make toward prevention, treatment and even a cure."
Diabetes is a chronic disease and a silent killer. 17 million Americans have diabetes and more than 1,000,000 are newly diagnosed each year. Diabetes is the nation's fifth deadliest disease, killing almost 280,000 people annually. In 2002, diabetes cost the United States $132 billion, up from $98 billion in 1997. A major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, diabetes is also the leading cause of blindness, kidney failure and amputations.
The American Diabetes Association is the nation's premier voluntary health organization supporting diabetes research, information and advocacy. Founded in 1940, the Association has offices in every region of the country, providing services to hundreds of communities. The Association's commitment to research is reflected through its scientific meetings; education and provider recognition programs; and its Research Foundation and Nationwide Research Program, which fund breakthrough studies looking into the cure, prevention, and treatment of diabetes and its complications. For more information, please visit www.diabetes.org or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.
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