Monday, December 7, 2009

The DMRF: A Critical Piece of the Dystonia Puzzle

Starting a scientific career is a daunting proposition, especially for a physician-scientist that has clinical as well as lab responsibilities. Yet, it is physicians who witness first hand the struggles of patients, and this knowledge can be a powerful motivator for scientific discovery -- even when the underlying science is unknown and therefore “off the radar” of basic investigators.

The DMRF has provided essential support to my scientific career, both at the critical early stage, as well as at later stages. Shortly after the gene encoding torsinA was discovered, I received a grant from the DMRF to generate torsinA mutant animals. This grant - to a young and untested physician-scientist – was helpful in supporting the work but, perhaps as importantly, gave me an early track record of securing funding and was therefore helpful in me getting other grants, both from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as well as the NIH. The ongoing support of the DMRF also enabled me to hire and support Rose Goodchild, an outstanding young scientist who now has an independent lab of her own (studying torsinA). Moreover, the DMRF has consistently organized and supported basic science and clinical workshops that have been invaluable in helping to integrate and focus the dystonia research community. I have found these meetings invaluable, both scientifically and as a place where trainees in my laboratory (and others) can begin to present their work and develop confidence as scientists. The DMRF has consistently focused on identifying and supporting the best science, and I’m convinced that we’d be far, far further from our goal of improving the treatment and hopefully cure of dystonia without the many valuable DMRF-supported activities.

Guest Blogger:

William Dauer M.D.
Elinor Levine Associate Professor
Neurology & Cell and Developmental Biology University of Michigan Medical School

Would you like to know more about DMRF grant funding opportunities?

The deadline for all applications is December 15, 2009. Visit to view the application form.

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