Matthew Larson Foundation for Pediatric Brain Tumors: Grants for Brain Research and Treatment

OVERVIEW: This funder supports medical and scientific research to find a cure for brain and spinal tumors. It was established by the mother of a child who lost his life to this disease.

IP TAKE: Pitch a research project that deals with gene therapy or stem-cell drug delivery as alternatives to the common treatment options of radiation and chemotherapy.

PROFILE: The Matthew Larson Foundation for Pediatric Brain Tumors (MLF) has a medical research grant program that supports studies regarding potential treatments and cures for pediatric brain and spinal tumors. It has been awarding these types of grants since 2007, and has funded over $2 million for research projects since that time. 

In 2002, Matthew Larson was diagnosed with choroid plexus carcinoma, a rare brain cancer, when he was just 2½ years old. His mother, Kelly Larson, created a foundation in her son’s name to create awareness about the disease and help families try to overcome it. After a five-year battle with the disease Matthew passed away in April 2007. The purpose of the foundation today is to fund medical and scientific research to find a cure.

To apply for a grant, you must first submit a letter of inquiry for the medical advisory committee to review. Selected applicants are invited to send a full application. Full applications are evaluated by independent peer reviewers to assess the significance, level of innovation and feasibility of the research proposed. Based upon that feedback, the medical advisory committee recommends projects to the board of directors.

To be eligible for a grant, you must have an MD or PhD at a U.S.-based nonprofit medical or scientific institution. Applicants should also hold an academic rank of assistant professor or instructor (or equivalent). Grants are awarded for up to $75,000 for a one-year period, and only direct costs are funded. You can find important dates for the current year’s funding process on the Instructions and Application page of the foundation website.

Details about previous grantees can be found on the foundation’s Funded Research page. Past grants were awarded to researchers affiliated with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, City of Hope National Medical Center, and Yale University, among others. Something that sets this foundation apart from others in the field of pediatric brain research is the IronMatt Family Assistance Program. According to the foundation, “We are the only Foundation that gives direct financial assistance to families regardless of their socio-economic status, the type of brain tumor (malignant or not), or the progress of the disease.” 

The foundation is run by a seven-member executive committee, an 11-member board of directors and a 10-member medical advisory committee. Interested grantseekers can email the executive committee members directly or call the Franklin Lakes, New Jersey-based Iron Matt office at 201-410-2751. Follow the foundation’s News and Events page to keep up with recent happenings.   


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