Public Release: 

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center awarded $38.2 million in research grants

A total of 69 grants will support a broad spectrum of scientific research

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

BOSTON - Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has been awarded $38.2 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). BIDMC scientists received a total of 69 grants across all medical-center departments, including surgery, neurology, pathology and a wide swath of divisions within the Department of Medicine including cardiology, hematology/oncology, nephrology, gastroenterology and geriatrics.

"This level of funding is a very impressive achievement and speaks to the high caliber of BIDMC's research program," says Chief Academic Officer Vikas Sukhatme, MD, PhD. "Virtually every BIDMC department and division received grants encompassing all types of research: basic, translational and clinical."

The NIH awarded a total of $5 billion in grants as part of the overall $100 billion federal stimulus package. "At a time when federal research dollars were declining significantly, this ARRA funding is a true stimulus to research productivity," adds Sukhatme. "These 69 new grants strengthen BIDMC's already strong research program, which has consistently ranked in the top four in NIH funding among independent hospitals nationwide for more than 10 years running."

Among the grants received by BIDMC was an award of $1.6 million to Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, Chief of BIDMC's Division of Vaccine Research to continue his investigations of novel HIV vaccine candidates. Also notable, Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Associate Director of Research for BIDMC's Cancer Center was awarded a grant of $2.1 million a year for two years for his work developing a new paradigm for conducting clinical trials to test cancer therapies.

In addition, BIDMC scientists received a total of eight NIH Challenge Grants. These two-year grants were specifically created as part of the Recovery Act funding, and focus on "challenge topics" that address biomedical research challenges that will benefit from "jumpstart" funds.

"Like other funding in the federal stimulus package, these grants are designed to have broad applications to the population as a whole," notes Randy Mason, BIDMC Vice President of Research Operations. "The BIDMC projects that were funded represent a wide range of subject areas, from investigations into the causes of cancers and cardiac diseases to the development of new technologies to help individuals better manage sleep apnea and heal broken bones." (To see an entire list of BIDMC-funded projects visit http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter_SearchResults.cfm.)

BIDMC's eight Challenge Grants include the following:

  • Mary Bouxsein, PhD, of BIDMC's Center for Advanced Orthopaedic Studies received a grant of more than $950,000 over two years to investigate the effects of perinatal calorie restriction or high-fat diet on the acquisition of bone mass and strength in mice to determine its influence on adult bone disease;

  • Christopher Evans, PhD, Director of the Center for Advanced Orthopaedic Studies, received a grant totaling $980,186 over two years to work with BIDMC's Orthopaedic Trauma team to develop innovative ways to heal broken bones -- which are more efficient and less expensive than existing methods;

  • Pier Paolo Pandolfi, MD, PhD, Associate Director of Research of BIDMC's Cancer Center, was awarded a Challenge grant of $1 million over two years for his investigations of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), an incurable life-threatening disorder;

  • Jeffrey Saffitz, MD, PhD, Chairman of BIDMC's Department of Pathology, will study a heart disease that carries the greatest known risk of sudden cardiac death, a major public health plague. He was awarded a Challenge Grant of $975,551 over two years;

  • Martin Sanda, MD, Director of BIDMC's Prostate Cancer Program, has received two Challenge Grants of $1 million each over two years. The first grant will compare long-term side effects, cancer control, and health-care costs of different treatments for early-stage prostate cancer; the second will evaluate whether the use of robotic assistance improves quality and consistency of prostate cancer surgery;

  • Ralph Scully, MB, BS, PhD, of BIDMC's Division of Hematology/Oncology was awarded a two-year Challenge Grant totaling over $1 million to examine defects in double strand break (DSB) repair, which are known to be common in human cancers and offer a potential new target for cancer therapies. New tools developed in the Scully laboratory will allow investigators to rapidly screen the human genome for new genes that regulate DSB repair;

  • Robert Thomas, MD, of the Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine received a two-year grant totaling $1 million to test a new method of assessing sleep quality based on changes in the speed of a person's heart beat and breathing-related factors. Thomas will assess the usefulness of this method as a monitor of sleep health among patients with complicated forms of sleep apnea and patients with heart failure.

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Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School and consistently ranks in the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is a clinical partner of the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of the Harvard/Dana-Farber Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit www.bidmc.org.

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