When major medical breakthroughs happen, including the promising bone marrow treatment for humans with sickle cell anemia announced last December, we often don’t realize the full time and effort behind a fresh prevention, treatment or cure. The truth, though, is that medical advancements usually take years, even decades, to come to fruition-and as you go along countless ideas are attempted before one of them opens the doors. Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) is devoted to finding and funding another big ideas in animal health research.
We all know that a novel idea goes nowhere without proper funding-and funding for the unknown is usually tough to come by. The Foundation is one of the few organizations helping cutting-edge scientists gather data and test promising concepts that might 1 day result in major health breakthroughs for animals.
Innovative Ideas Take Flight:
Through its pilot-study program, MAF provides funding around $10,800 for one-year studies that test a fresh idea and gather preliminary data to ascertain if the theory merits further investigation. The program provides timely funding for innovative ideas, speeds up scientific discovery and advances the Foundation’s mission to boost medical and welfare of animals.
“Pilot research study grants are designed to support innovative research ideas and early-stage projects where preliminary data may not be available,” says Dr. Wayne Jensen, MAF chief scientific officer.
One benefit to the pilot-study program is that MAF accepts these study proposals multiple times each year as opposed to through the original grant cycle of once per year. Consequently, this system helps researchers respond more rapidly to emerging diseases and contemporary questions in animal health research.
Funding for pilot studies is desperately needed to advance veterinary medicine for companion animals and wildlife. Dr. James Moore, chair of the Foundation’s large animal scientific advisory board, explains that a lot of funding agencies only support proposals that already contain a sufficient level of preliminary data to suggest that the expected outcomes will soon be achieved. But scientists need funding to gather preliminary data. So it was no real surprise that MAF received an overwhelming response-161-to its two 2009 demands proposals. The Foundation can fund only 12 to 18 projects each year.
Beyond uncovering information about the infectious diseases that have been killing sea otters, these studies also generated increased state legislative protections for the playful creatures and trained numerous up-and-coming wildlife health researchers.
A current study funded by our Canine Cancer Campaign is testing a brand new drug therapy for bone cancer in dogs. This major project encompasses multiple facets and institutions and could eventually save the lives of 1000s of dogs-yet it began as a tiny pilot effort. Additional pilot projects may soon lead to a promising treatment for eye cancer in horses, improved nutrition for brook trout and better pain management for reptiles.