SPOTLIGHT ON NEW INVESTIGATORS
MPD Foundation’s staff and board are constantly revisiting what it means to fund research that produces results. We look at the various ways the work we fund affects patients – from available treatments to increasing their understanding of the scientific underpinnings of their disorder.
We also happen to be impacting the lives of those in the research community, including a group we’ve focused on through our last two grant cycles: new investigators.
This is a group we define as being new to the field of MPN or simply new to independent research and desiring to work in MPN. Although we’ve funded up and coming researchers in the past, since 2008 it has been a goal of ours to target this group for funding along with our grants to more experienced investigators. Both types of investigators are working towards the goal of finding the causes of and potential cures for the myeloproliferative neoplasms.
On that note we’d like to introduce some of our newest grant recipients:
Wei Tong, PhD, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania
Dr. Tong will be working on a project titled “K63 Ubiquitination in JAK2 Signaling and Myeloproliferative Neoplasms”. The bottom line is that Dr. Tong is trying to determine how LNK affects JAK2 signaling. JAK2 is basically an on-off switch whose malfunction is present in many MPNs. LNK normally regulates the JAK2 switch to prevent myeloproliferation; mutated versions fail to turn off the signaling.
Toshiaki Kawakami, MD PhD, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.
Dr. Kawakami’s project is titled “SPS Complex in MPD”. In this project he will be studying a series of genes whose absence in mice is known to cause tumors and myeloproliferative neoplasms. His hypothesis is that the same thing happens in humans, and if correct, the discovery could lead directly to new therapeutic targets for MPN drug development.
Saghi Ghaffari, MD PhD, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
Dr. Ghaffari’s project is titled “Understanding Molecular Mechanisms of Regulation of Myeloproliferative Disorders in Mouse and Human”. With this project Dr. Ghaffari will be investigating a different signaling mechanism altogether whose failure may be responsible for myeloproliferation. This is important because the JAK2 mutation is not present in all MPN patients; there must be at least one other mutation to account for those cases.
We will monitor their progress and report back as their work develops. As one of the only organizations serving the needs of patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms we are committed to not only funding such projects but also to providing information and support for MPN patients.