Dystonia Medical Research Foundation: Grants for Diseases

OVERVIEW: The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation backs research into the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of movement disorders.

IP TAKE: This is an approachable funder, especially for young researchers just getting their careers underway. While investigators will not find a ton of money here, backing from this foundation is a good start to getting feet in the door with other funders.

PROFILE: The Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) was founded in 1976 by Samuel and Frances Belzberg. As the name of the foundation indicates, it is dedicated to funding “research related to the causes, mechanisms, prevention, and treatment of all dystonias.” “Dystonia” describes a wide range of movement disorders that may affect different areas of the body. DMRF's mission is to advance research for treatments and a cure, and also to promote awareness of the multiple forms of dystonia and movement disorders.

DMRF’s grant and fellowship funding supports scientists from all over the world. It provides “relatively small grants to investigators that allow them to do the preliminary work necessary to be eligible for larger grants from agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH).” DMRF is open to funding projects that have difficulty finding support elsewhere, especially “riskier, more cutting-edge investigations that the NIH is less inclined to fund.”

Through its Directing Science Research Contracts DMRF reaches out to investigators to “answer a specific question or work on a specific problem.” Past projects include “the creation of important cell and animal models,” pursuing “potential new drug targets,” collecting “data on specific proteins,” and better understanding “specific neurons and pathways in the brain associated with dystonia.”

DMRF also operates a Clinical Fellowship Training program, sponsoring one-year, $75,000 clinical fellowships for second-year physician fellows. The focus of the fellowship is diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders with an emphasis on dystonia. The fellowships are made in partnership with Merz Pharmaceuticals and the Allergan Foundation.

To get an idea of what sort of research DMRF supports, have a look at their list of current projects. DMRF accepts investigator proposals throughout the year, and also periodically releases directed Requests for Applications.

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