How does the translational research program advance the mission of the National Eye Institute (NEI)?
The NEI’s mission includes the support of research for new treatments and cures related to blinding eye diseases and visual disorders. The translational research initiative is directly targeted to the development of novel therapies.
Why is collaboration important to move a scientific discovery from the laboratory to a patient?
The rapid and efficient translation of innovative laboratory research findings into clinical development typically requires input from different disciplines. Often approaches from such fields of molecular biology, biochemistry, physiology, toxicology, and engineering are necessary to produce a new drug or device. A collaborative approach is particularly appropriate for research focused on pathways that likely be targeted by biological intervention, such as gene therapy, cell-based therapy, or pharmacological approaches.
How does this program encourage collaboration?
This program makes resources available for the Principal Investigator (PI) to recruit scientists from several disciplines to form research teams to address scientific and technical questions that would be beyond the capabilities of any single research group.
What’s unique about the grants awarded through the NEI’s translational research program?
In this program, the applicant may request up to $1.75 million per year direct costs for a total project period of five years. The PI has the flexibility to use different scientific teams at different stages of the research.
Some researchers worry that the translational research program is taking money away from basic science research. Why is that not the case?
The NEI grant portfolio must support a mix of research in order to fulfill the institute’s mission. Basic research has always been the major emphasis of NEI support, but it is essential that the mix include translational research, bioengineering, clinical research, epidemiologic studies, research training and career development, center core grants, and small business grants. The translational research program provides resources for investigators to apply their laboratory discoveries to clinical problems.
What features do successful R24 grant applications have in common?
They are goal-oriented with clear end points and milestone-driven therapeutic approaches, which can then be tested in a clinical trial.
What are some examples of R24 success stories?
Henry Edelhauser’s transscleral drug delivery for retinal disorders.
Martin Friedlander’s fragments of TrpRS to treat neovascular diseases and adult stem cells for therapy of visual disorders.
Greg Hageman’s development of complement modulating therapies for AMD.
Henry Kaminski’s targeted therapies for Myasthenia Gravis.
Who do I contact for more information about applying for an R24 grant?
Neeraj Agarwal, PhD
Program Director for the NEI Translational Research Program on Therapy for Visual Disorders
Division of Extramural Research
National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health
5635 Fishers Ln, Suite 1300
Rockville, MD 20852