Collaborative Network Awards

After a successful first round of Challenge Awards in 2014, the Alliance has taken a critical next step in moving forward these overall research priorities, with the selection of awardees for Planning grants in support of larger, longer-term Collaborative Network Awards.

The Alliance issued this second call for applications in November 2014, resulting in 52 applications from around the world and involving almost 500 investigators. This Collaborative Network development will accelerate progress in three priority areas:

  1. Drug discovery programs that identify and validate molecular and cellular targets and screen and characterize drug candidates, which may be either repurposed or first-in-human drugs.
  2. The discovery, advancement and validation of new or existing biological or imaging biomarkers.
  3. Proof-of-concept trials and trial designs, including, but not limited to trials in remyelination, neuroprotection, enhanced plasticity

Following an extensive peer and technical review, involving key academia and industry experts, 11 projects were evaluated for receipt of a Collaborative Network Planning Award and will receive a 12-month, €50,000 planning grant. The 11 projects that have received planning grants will then have the opportunity to apply in 2016 for one of three 4-year, €4.2 million grants for the operation of a collaborative network.

In addition, these awardees will be working closely with members of the Alliance Scientific Steering Committee, as well as consult with the Alliance Industry Forum during this planning stage to ensure that the final applications are as strong and competitive as possible.

Recipients of planning grant awards focus on one of the three priority areas. Please click here for a pdf of the project summaries.

Development of pre-clinical drug candidates:

  • Development of a drug discovery pipeline for secondary progressive MS. Francisco Quintana (Brigham and Women’s Hospital)– Lead Researcher – (U.S.)
  • Stem cell-derived oligodendrocyte progenitor-based therapy of progressive MS. Steven Goldman (University of Rochester Medical Center)– Lead Researcher – (U.S.)
  • Bioinformatics and cell reprogramming to develop an in vitro platform to discover new drugs for progressive multiple sclerosis. (BRAVEinMS) Gianvito Martino (Fondazione Centro San Raffaele-1) – Lead Researcher – (Italy)
  • Mitochondria and progressive MS. Don Mahad (University of Edinburgh)– Lead Researcher (UK)
  • An International Network to Decipher Function and Impact of CNS-relevant Risk Variants for MS. David Hafler (Yale University School of Medicine) – Lead Researcher (U.S.)

Development of a meaningful outcome measures (biomarkers):

  • An MRI biomarker for disability progression for use in clinical trials. Douglas Arnold (Institution)– McGill University – Lead Researcher – (Canada)
  • SPINE: Spinal cord imaging to Identify Novel biomarkers of disease Evolution and treatment monitoring in progressive MS. Massimo Filippi (Fondazione Centro San Raffaele-1) – Lead Researcher – (Italy)
  • Prospectively Defining Secondary Progressive MS. Fred Lublin (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount)– Lead Researcher – (U.S.)
  • Novel molecular imaging probes to predict disability progression and evaluate therapies in MS: The PROBIMS network. Bruno Stankoff (University Pierre et Marie Curie )(France) –Lead Researcher
  • Development and validation of an innovative, comprehensive measuring system for disease progression in MS. Peter Fuhr (University Hospital Basel)(Switzerland) & The International MS Visual System Consortium (IMSVISUAL). Peter Calabresi (The Johns Hopkins University)(U.S.) – Lead Researchers

Development of clinical trial designs:

  • Cognitive rehabilitation and exercise for people with progressive MS: a multicenter, multidisciplinary study. Anthony Feinstein (Sunnybrook Research Institute)(Canada) – Lead Researcher

In addition:

In addition the Alliance has taken the step of linking up three teams that were found meritorious with three teams that submitted proposals in a similar area but which were not selected for funding. The Alliance is encouraging these groups to work together in order to facilitate greater impact by these teams. The teams to be linked up are:

  • Gene discovery and lead compound identification for Progressive MS. Philip DeJager (Harvard University)– Lead Researcher (U.S.) will link with An International Network to Decipher Function and Impact of CNS-relevant Risk Variants for MS. David Hafler (Yale University School of Medicine) – Lead Researcher (U.S.)
  • Targeting microglia in progressive MS. Richard Nicholas (Imperial College London) – Lead Researcher (U.K.) will link with Novel molecular imaging probes to predict disability progression and evaluate therapies in MS: The PROBIMS network. Bruno Stankoff (University Pierre et Marie Curie ) – Lead Researcher (France)
  • Targeting nervous plasticity in progressive MS – a translational approach. Letizia Leocani (San Raffaele University) – Lead Researcher (Italy) will link with Cognitive rehabilitation and exercise for people with progressive MS: a multicenter, multidisciplinary study. Anthony Feinstein (Sunnybrook Research Institute) – Lead Researcher (Canada)

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