MPN Challenge Grant Program


At the MPN Research Foundation, we continuously strive to give patients new hope by funding leading researchers in the fight against MPNs. Over the past two decades, our efforts have resulted in the development of new drugs and treatment options as well as a better understanding of the blood cancers Polycythemia Vera, Essential Thrombocythemia, and Myelofibrosis.

Since 2000, MPNRF has awarded over $15 million to worthy MPN researchers on a quest to advance the science of MPNs in the field of drug development and comprehensive research as part of the MPN Challenge Grant Program, a partnership between MPNRF and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Through the Challenge Grant Program, MPNRF is at the forefront of improving the lives of PV, ET, and MF patients.

2019 – 2021 mpn Challenge Grantees

The MPN Research Foundation is thrilled to announce the award of seven new projects as part of the MPN Challenge Grant program. The following projects applied and reviewed in a competitive, peer-reviewed process that took place this past July in Chicago. Andrew Schafer, MD, a Richard T. Silver, M.D. Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPN) Center at Weil Cornell Professor and the Chair of MPNRF’s Scientific Advisory Board commented: “As reflected by the institutions represented, the MPN Challenge grant is now the leading funding source for the most competitive MPN research grant applications worldwide.”

The projects will receive $100,000 each for up to 2 years. They are:

  • Matyas Ecsedi, MD, Ph.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center “A JAK2 V617F -directed T cell receptor transgenic T cell immunotherapy for the treatment of myeloproliferative neoplasms” Partial funding in year one is being provided by the Fred Hutchinson’s Cancer Research Center’s Evergreen Fund
  • Yelena Ginzburg, MD Tisch Cancer Institute, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai “Dysregulated iron metabolism plays a pivotal role in polycythemia vera”
  • Vikas Gupta, MD, Princess Margaret Cancer Center, University Health Network “Feasibility of a patient preferences-controlled study of allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation versus best available non-transplant therapies in patients with myelofibrosis (ALLO-BAT Study)”


  • Catriona Jamieson, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego “Detection and Inhibition of Malignant RNA Processing Deregulation in Myelofibrosis”


  • Alison Moliterno, MD, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine “Targeting Thrombopoietin Signaling in the MPN”


  • Jyoti Nangalia, MD, Ph.D., Wellcome Sanger Institute “Origins of MPN: Understanding the timing of acquisition of driver mutations and dynamics of clonal expansion.”


  • Vijay Sankaran, MD, Ph.D., Boston Children’s Hospital “Dissecting Germline Genetic Risk for Myeloproliferative Neoplasms”


  • The MPN Challenge grant program is our biannual open RFP research initiative which allows us to fund the most pressing MPN science. The focus areas change each year as we learn more about an unmet need in MPN research. In the past, we’ve focused on CRISPR, selective JAK2 inhibition, inflammation, Interferon and more. Researchers are given 2-year grants with regular progress reports to ensure they are making headway. 
  • MPN Interferon Initiative seeks to answer the intractable questions of why Interferon works for some patients, even reducing allele burden, but is not tolerated or ineffective in others. The MPNRF Interferon (IFN) Initiative is a multi-center project which has brought together internationally recognized experts in both blood and solid tumors to answer these questions, which could have a wide-ranging impact on the lives of people living with cancer. Read more about this project here
  • The NUTRIENT Study came about after learning about a hypothesis related to inflammation, diet and allele burden in MPN. This grant will provide the young investigator with the data needed to apply for a larger grant, as we did with Ron Hoffman’s 2006 support for the MPD Research Consortium, which has now received $65 million in funding from the NIH. 


  • 2017 – 2019

    • Angela G. Fleischman, MD, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine
      Project Title:  Inflammation as a Driver of Clonal Expansion in Myeloproliferative Neoplasm
      The goal of this project is to determine how JAK2 mutated cells react to inflammation in comparison to normal blood-producing cells. If inflammation plays a role to accelerate the progression of MPN, this study would help define possible pathways to suppressing this inflammation. 
    • Stephen Oh, MD, PhD, Washington University in St. Louis
      Project Title:  Leveraging NFKB Pathway Dysregulation for Therapeutic Benefit in Myeloproliferative NeoplasmsThe goal is to test the therapeutic potential of pevonedistat, which has been shown in a preliminary study in mice to reduce white blood cell counts and target the NFkB pathway which can become hyperactivated in MF and AML.
  • 2015 – 2017

    • George Church, PhD Click here for project details
      Harvard Medical School
      “Establishment of isogenic human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) lines containing CRISPR engineered MPN mutations”
    • Camelia Iancu-Rubin, PhD and Nina Bhardwaj, MD, PhD Click here for project details
      Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
      “Defining the immunomodulatory properties of mutated calreticulin in MPN”
    • Zhijian Qian, PhD and Wen-Shu Wu, PhD Click here for project details
      University of Illinois at Chicago
      “Correction of JAK2 mutation in myeloproliferative neoplasms by gene editing”
    • Brady Stein, MD Click here for project details
      Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine
      “Anti-PDL1 therapy for patients with Myelofibrosis”
    • Zhaohui Ye, PhD Click here for project details
      Johns Hopkins
      “Precise Genome Editing for Targeting Malignant Clones in MPNs”
    • Nadia Carlesso, MD, PhD
      Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research, Indiana University School of Medicine 
    • Robert Kralovics, PhD
      Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences – Read more.
    • Katya Ravid, MD, PhD
      Boston University School of Medicine
    • Leonard Zon, MD
      Boston Children’s Hospital
  • 2014 – 2015

    • Steven Hubbard, PhD
      New York University
      “Testing for small molecules for selective JAK2 inhibition”
    • Nadia Carlesso & H. Schott Boswell 
      Indiana University School of Medicine
      “Impact of the inflamed bone marrow niche on the progression of Myeloproliferative Neoplasia and marrow fibrosis” – Read More
    • Michael Deininger
      Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah School of Medicine
      “Engineering CAR T Cells That Target Mutant CALR as a Novel Therapeutic for Myeloproliferative Neoplasms”
    • Angela Fleischman & Richard Van Etten
      University of California, Irvine
      “A key role for lymphoid cells in the pathology of myeloproliferative neoplasm”
    • Lei Ding
      Columbia University Medical Center
      “Hematopoietic stem cell niche in myelofibrosis”
    • Robert Kralovics
      CEMM, Austria
      “Immunologic Targeting of Calreticulin Gene Mutations in MPN”
    • Ann Mullally
      The Brigham and Women’s Hospital
      “Determination of the role of altered epigenetic regulation of megakaryocytes in the pathogenesis of myelofibrosis”
    • Katya Ravid
      Boston University School of Medicine
      “Nanoplatforms for Imaging Bone Marrow Fibrosis”
    • Gary W. Reuther
      Moffitt Cancer Center
      “Using Pharmacological Synthetic Lethality to Treat MPNs”
    • Jean-Luc Villeval, Sandra Pellegrini, Stefan Constantinescu
      INSERM/Institut Gustave Roussy/University Paris XI, France; Institut Pasteur Paris, France; de Duve Institute, Université catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium, and Ludwig Cancer Research Institute, Brussels, Belgium
      “Project Title: Mechanisms of Sensibility and Resistance of MPN Hematopoietic Stem Cells to IFNα Therapy”
    • Leonard Zon
      Boston Children’s Hospital
      “Identifying factors that promote clonal dominance in zebrafish hematopoiesis for the treatment of myeloproliferative neoplasms”
  • 2013 – 2014

    • John Varga and Jonathan Licht
      Northwestern University
      “Adipocytes – the cell of origin of fibrosis in myeloproliferative neoplasm?”
    • Golam Mohi
      State University of New York
      “Molecular mechanism of myelofibrosis induced by JAK2V617F”
    • Emmanuelle Passegué
      The University of California at San Francisco
      “Targeting the remodeling of the osteoblastic bone marrow niche by MPN myeloid cells to prevent myelofibrosis”
    • Xiaoli Wang
      Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
      “The role of thrombopoietin and its receptor in myelofibrosis”
  • 2011 – 2013

    • Ann Mullaly & Benjamin L. Ebert
      Brigham and Women’s Hospital
      “Determination of the cytokines that are necessary and sufficient to include fibrotic transformation in JAK2V617F-mediated MPN”

    • Amit Verma and Zhizhuang Joe Zhao
      Albert Einstein College of Medicine & University of Health Sciences Center
      “Efficacy of a clinically relevant TGF-Beta receptor kinase inhibitor in myelofibrosis”

    • Pearlie Epling-Burnette and Adam Mailloux
      H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center
      “Blockade in mesenchymal stromal self-renewal as a novel mediator of the profibrotic marrow phenotype”

    • C. Arnold Spek
      Center for Experimental and Molecular Medicine, Austria
      “Bone marrow fibrosis: proof of principle for a potential therapeutic role of protease-activated receptor inhibitors”

    • Established Investigators:

    • Ruben Mesa, MD
      Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale
      “Validation of the use of the Myeloproliferative Neoplasm Symptom Assessment Form Diary to Assess Symptomatic Pains in Patients with Polycythemia Vera and Post Polycythemia Vera”

    • Robert I. Handin, MD
      Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School
      “HDAC Inhibitors and Red Cell Proliferation in Zebrafish Embryos Expressing Human JAK2V617F”

    • Shaoguang Li, MD PhD
      University of Massachusetts Medical School
      “Identification of Alox5 as a Potential Target Gene for the Treatment of Polycythemia Vera”

    • Robert Kralovics, PhD
      Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna
      “Deciphering the Genetic Complexity of Myeloproliferative Disorders”
      Research results: Discovery of CALR genetic mutation for MPNs (December 2013)

    • Benjamin Ebert, MD Ph.D., and Ross Levine, MD
      Harvard Medical School and Memorial Sloan Kettering, respectively
      “Whole Genome Sequencing to Identify Germline and Somatic Disease Alleles Which Contribute to MPD Pathogenesis”

    • New Investigators:

    • Toshiaki Kawakami, MD PhD
      La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology
      “SPS Complex in MPD”

    • Wei Tong, PhD
      Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania
      “K63 Ubiquitination in JAK2 Signaling and Myeloproliferative Neoplasms”

    • Saghi Ghaffari, MD PhD

      Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
      “Understanding Molecular Mechanisms of Regulation of Myeloproliferative Disorders in Mouse and Human”

  • 2009 – 2010

    • Gary Gilliland, MD, PhD
      Harvard Medical School
      “Genetics and Therapy of Myeloproliferative Disorders”

    • Ronald Hoffman, MD
      Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
      “Use of Stem Cells Derived from the Philadelphia Chromosome Negative Myeloproliferative Disorders as a Chemotherapeutic Target”

    • Josef Prchal, MD
      University of Utah
      Define somatic mutations that precede JAK2 mutation in PV patients & monitor their changes in response to Pegasys”

    • Ayalew Tefferi, MD
      Mayo Clinic
      “Continued Development of Clinical Database-Linked Cell and Serum Bank of Patients with Myeloproliferative Disorders”

    • New Investigator:

    • Benjamin Braun, MD, PhD
      University of California, San Francisco
      “Oncogenic Ras in Leukemia Stem Cells”

    • Francois Delhommeau, Ph.D., PharmD
      Saint-Antoine Hospital, Paris
      “Characterization and Function of a New Tumor Suppressor Gene in Myeloproliferative Disorders”

    • Robert Kralovics, PhD
      Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna
      “Genomic approaches for disease gene identification in myeloproliferative neoplasms”

    • Dorothy Sipkins, MD, PhD
      University of Chicago
      “In Vivo Imaging of PV and CIMF CD34+ Progenitor Cell Interactions with Bone Marrow Microenvironment”

  • 2006 – 2008

    • Gary Gilliland, Ph.D., MD (MPD Research Alliance)
      Harvard Medical School

    • Ayalew Tefferi, MD (MPD Research Alliance)
      Mayo Clinic, Rochester

    • Ronald Hoffman, Ph.D. (MPD Research Alliance)
      Mt. Sinai School of Medicine (2007-Present)
      University of Illinois, Chicago (2006-2007)

    • Gail Roboz, MD
      Weill Cornell Medical College
      “Arsenic trioxide (ATO) combined with cytosine arabinoside (ara-c) for the treatment of advanced myelofibrosis and myelofibrosis transformed to acute myeloid leukemia”

  • 2000 – 2005

    • 2005
    • Xiaomei Ma, PhD
      Yale University School of Medicine
      “Epidemiology of Chronic Myeloproliferative Disorders Grant”

    • 2004
    • Alison Moliterno, MD
      Johns Hopkins
      “Proteomic Approach to the Diagnosis of Chronic MPD’s.

    • Mingjiang Xu, MD, Ph.D.
      The University of Illinois, at Chicago
      “Exploration of a unique phosphatase as a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of PV”

    • Ron Hoffman, MD
      The University of Illinois at Chicago
      “Continuation of 2003 grant. “

    • Jose Lopez, MD
      Baylor College of Medicine
      “Macrophage-derived Prothrombotic Microparticles and Thrombosis in Myeloproliferative Disorders”

    • 2003
    • Xiao-Feng Yang, MD, PhD
      Baylor College of Medicine
      “Novel Antigen targets for Immunotherapy in the Myeloproliferative Diseases”

    • Ruben Mesa, MD
      Mayo Clinic, Rochester, NY
      “Novel therapies for Myelofibrosis with Myeloid Metaplasia”

    • Richard D’Andrea, MD
      Child Health Research Institute, Australia
      “Identification of Growth Factor Receptor Mutations in Polycythemia Vera”

    • Ron Hoffman, MD
      The University of Illinois at Chicago
      “Organizational grant for International MPD Research Consortium in the application for $25 million grant from NCI”

    • Vahid Afshar-Kharghan, MD
      Baylor College of Medicine
      “Continuation of 2002 Grant”

    • 2002
    • Vahid Afshar-Kharghan
      MD Baylor College of Medicine
      “Genetic factors that influence platelet function in PV and ET, and their effect on the frequency of thrombotic complications.”

    • Dr. Josef Prchal
      Baylor College of Medicine
      “Continuation of 2001 Grant”

    • Dr. Josef Prchal
      Baylor College of Medicine
      “Continuation of 2000 Grant”

    • 2001
    • Dr. Josef Prchal
      Baylor College of Medicine
      “Locate and identify the gene or genes whose defects are responsible for ET.”

    • Dr. Josef Prchal
      Baylor College of Medicine
      “Continuation of 2000 Grant”

    • 2000
    • Dr. Josef Prchal
      Baylor College of Medicine
      “Locate and identify the gene or genes that lead to the development of the Polycythemia Vera phenotype.


  • Established Investigator Awards:  These grants are aimed at researchers with a demonstrated interest and history of achievement in MPN research. Projects can be either basic or translational research, as long as results will contribute to a new understanding, new molecular targets, or new treatments for MPNs.
  • New Investigator Awards: These grants are aimed at emerging investigators who are considering a career related to research in the myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) or established investigators in other fields who are interested in bringing their experience, skills, and ideas to research in the MPNs.
  • Research Alliance: Multi-year grants which prioritized the at the time unusual collaboration of researchers at different institutions. At the time it was a novel approach in light of the traditional models aimed at advancing the science without a specific focus on improved treatments. Key to this effort was patient involvement in the process. In addition to raising money, widespread patient involvement provides researchers with easy access to a broad range of tissue samples and volunteers for clinical trials.


Our Funding Strategy

Our strategy for funding research is based on one simple premise: that patients can, if thoughtful and united, accelerate and affect the course of scientific research that can ultimately change the course of their disease, for their own benefit and that of the patient population as a whole.

Our funding strategy also recognizes that the amount of money we as a patient population can raise will never equal the potential investments of governmental and other large organizations. But by being very careful about how and where we direct our funding dollars, we can

  • Fund scientific research of the highest quality and potential for impact on the MPNs.
  • Catalyze areas of science not being stimulated by other funding sources, opening the door to new potential treatments.
  • Focus on research with the highest potential to have transformative effects on patient care and treatment.
  • Leverage our limited funds to get the largest possible benefit for every dollar we invest.

In order to guarantee that the grants we fund will meet the above criteria, the MPN Research Foundation depends on the expertise of a Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) selected for its depth of understanding of MPNs and related diseases, and a global awareness of trends and technologies that can be brought to bear in the study of these diseases. When grant proposals are solicited, they are reviewed both on paper and in a collaborative meeting of the SAB, using grant scoring guidelines developed by NIH (the National Institutes of Health), using the criteria described above. When the number of proposals received dictates the need for additional reviewers, the SAB recommends an extended panel, which participates in both written and in-person reviews.

Basic vs. Translational Science

In our history, the MPN Research Foundation has funded both basic and translational projects. Goals for each grant cycle are determined based on an analysis of current scientific progress and the potential for new directions. As an example, in 2005, following the discovery of the JAK2V617F mutation, the Foundation elected to focus all its funding energies on the rapid development of JAK2 inhibitors, which were then only beginning to emerge. We began a multi-year project called The MPD Research Alliance, which was responsible for a significant amount of the early testing done on JAK2 compounds.

At the beginning of our next grantmaking cycle, the scientific landscape was quite different. In 2008, many academic labs and a growing number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies were making strides in developing JAK2 inhibitors. We, therefore, turned our attentions more towards basic science, in the hope of stimulating the next wave of MPN discoveries. We repeated this approach in 2010, as new mechanisms (such as microRNAs, HDAcc inhibitors, and others) and new technologies (such as full genome sequencing) continued to rapidly expand the field of knowledge related to MPNs.


Funding MPN Research for a Better Tomorrow

The MPN Research Foundation provides cancer research grants to fund advances in treatments for myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). To date, we have awarded more than $13 million and funded 60+ research projects, enabling some of the world’s leading MPN researchers and scientists to make significant strides in understanding MPN mechanisms of action and other treatment areas. Sign up to be automatically alerted when the MPN Research Foundation issues new funding opportunities or RFPs.

Past MPN Research Grants

Explore our past grants for MPN research for more information about the grant application process and to learn how the MPN Research Foundation partners with researchers and scientists to help change the prognosis for MPN patients and their families.

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