More than $3 million has been awarded to two renowned Cure HHT scientists whose projects were originally funded by a Cure HHT seed grant.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) found the research of Dr. Rosemary Akhurst and Dr. Paul Oh worthy of further investment. Together, they have been awarded $3.3 million! That means for every $1 Cure HHT invested in their research, the HHT community received an additional $33 in research funds. These results reaffirm the Cure HHT belief that funding pilot projects can lead to HHT breakthroughs for patients around the world.
The Grant Program
The intent of the Cure HHT research grant program is to invest early in well-defined research projects that may not otherwise receive funding. Our seed grant program fosters new areas of research and enhances research partnerships. The goal is to provide investigators with the cash needed to generate initial data that will be of interest to a larger organization; the end result being larger funding for a long-term HHT research project.
Dr. Rosemary Akhurst
Dr. Rosemary Akhurst was awarded a $50,000 grant from Cure HHT in 2008 to begin determining which variant genes increase the risk of AVMs; if patients are at a higher risk of lung or brain AVMs based on genetics; and if doctors can personalize medicine for HHT patients. She has now leveraged that seed funding into a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health!
Q: How instrumental was the $50,000 Cure HHT grant?
A: The grant really acted as our seed money on the project to begin collecting preliminary data. Without that data there would have been no way to generate interest in the project or apply for federal funding. Without that initial grant, this project would not exist.
Q: How has Cure HHT continued to contribute to this important research?
A: Cure HHT is really what brought the team together for this project. I met both Chris Hughes and Marie Faughnan at the Family and Patient Conference in Los Angeles. We are each handling a specific aspect of this research within our expertise. The Foundation brought us together.
Q: Now that you have the funding, what are the next steps?
A: Over the last seven years we have written a few related publications and focused on research that lends itself to this study. But now that the funding has come in, we can begin to launch this project in full. We have already begun collecting blood samples and preparing mice for the study.
Dr. Paul Oh
What began as a $50,000 Cure HHT seed grant to kick-start Dr. Paul Oh’s investigation entitled, “The Role of Macrophages in the Pathogenesis of HHT” has been leveraged for an additional $1.5 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health!
“I thank you so much, the board of trustees and the donors for the trust and support during this drought season,” Oh said. “This NIH fund is enough to quench the thirst, but I will continue to seek additional funding for more vigorous research. I will do my best to find the mechanism-based therapy for HHT.”
Dr. Oh’s current research project hypothesizes that ALK1 or ENG-deficient endothelial cells promote the recruitment of macrophages, cells of the immune system formed in response to infection or damaged cells, and differentiation of them plays a crucial role in the development of AVMs.
The results from his study are anticipated to provide novel therapies with much lower potential side effects than current therapies. It will also allow the repurposing of drugs not previously considered to treat HHT patients.
Special thanks to The Olitsky Family Foundation and The Jeffrey A. Blevins Memorial Fund for contributing to the funding of this important research.