Neurodegenerative disorders affect millions of people across the world. They include Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, among others. For most neurodegenerative diagnoses, there are no effective treatments, no cures, and no means of prevention.
Early Career Acceleration Awards
While researchers are hard at work, attempting to find cures, it’s an expensive and complicated practice. The complexities of science itself are enough of a burden when it comes to rare disease research, money of all things shouldn’t be too. Seeing the need, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) formed the CZI Neurodegeneration Challenge Network and committed to donating 64 million dollars to neurodegenerative disorder research. This money will be donated through two different awards programs.
Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards
The first award program is called the Ben Barres Early Career Acceleration Awards, named after Ben Barres. He was an American neurobiologist, known for his dedicated advocacy to diversity in science. Specifically, these awards will be funding both collaborative science teams and early-career investigators from the fields of neuroscience, genomics, immunology, cell biology, and biochemistry. 17 investigators will be selected, each receiving a total of 2.5 million dollars toward their neurodegenerative disease research. The donation total for this award program will total 55.25 million.
“We hope to inspire a new approach to tackling neurodegenerative disease–one that leverages the combined power of basic science and technology to accelerate progress towards clinical goals.”
CZI has just announced their first group of award grantees for the Ben Barres award. Among these is Ivan Marazzi, an Assistant Professor of Microbiology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
At the core of Dr. Marazzi’s research are the mechanics of how genes turn on or turn off in the body- a major cause of neurodegenerative disorders. He believes that studying this phenomenon at the cellular level will reveal commonalities between diseases and ultimately, help identify potential treatments.
Collaborative Science Awards
CZI also sponsors the Collaborative Science Awards. The awards are meant to support collaboration between scientists, engineers, physicians, and computational biologists. They are given to small groups of interdisciplinary collaborators. Each group of researchers selected will include at least one physician. In total, nine of these awards will be given, each one equating to 1.05 million dollars for neurodegeneration research.
By taking an interdisciplinary approach to research, CZI hopes to improve collaboration, accelerating the pace of research. The goal is to find cures faster.
“To fill gaps in our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, we need to support new approaches, explore new ideas, and help experts connect across disciplines,” – CZI Head of Science Cori Bargmann.
You can read more about CZI and how their awards are accelerating research here!