Aging :: AFAR/Ellison Medical Foundation increase commitment to scientists studying aging

At a time when established scientists are leaving academia because of a lack of funding for biomedical research and a potential new generation of scientists are considering whether to even enter a field with a competitive funding environment, the Ellison Medical Foundation in partnership with the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR), has increased funding for two critical grant programs: the new Ellison Medical Foundation/AFAR Postdoctoral Fellows in Aging Research Program and the Julie Martin Mid-Career Awards in Aging Research.

The Ellison Medical Foundation has awarded AFAR more than $2.8 million to support 45 postdoctoral fellows (both MDs and PhDs at any level of postdoctoral training) over the next three years in the fundamental mechanisms of aging.

With this new commitment, the Ellison Medical Foundation/AFAR partnership has increased five-fold the number of researchers it will support.

“We are grateful to the ongoing and continued support of the Ellison Medical Foundation in expanding the postdoctoral fellowship program, said Stephanie Lederman, Executive Director of the American Federation for Aging Research. “There are so many promising scientists yet we are only able to fund eight percent of the applicants who seek grants. There’s a potential to lose a tremendous brain trust of future leaders in aging research. The Ellison Medical Foundation has taken a lead role in helping the next generation of researchers establish careers and an aging society will benefit,” she added.

“The potential for dramatic discoveries in biological and biomedical science applied to aging is greater now than at any other time in history,” said Richard L. Sprott, PhD, Executive Director of the Ellison Medical Foundation. “In the face of this opportunity we currently see declining federal support for scientists. Those just beginning their careers are especially vulnerable as support dries up. Our hope is that this decline is temporary, yet even a temporary reduction in support for scientists just beginning their careers, or those deciding whether to stay in science or build a career elsewhere, could result in the loss of most of a whole generation of scientists. Our partnership with AFAR is an important part of our overall strategy to help sustain as many developing investigators of aging as can survive the current funding shortage. Partnership with AFAR helps both organizations maximize the impact of funding by maximizing the quality of the review process using AFAR reviewers and minimizing the administrative burdens by combining our programs into a single, highly effective program,” Dr. Sprott added.

Mid-Career Scientists Need Support Too

While early-career scientists need a foothold into the field of aging research, the work of mid-career scientists is vulnerable in the current funding climate. With more competition for fewer research dollars, many mid-career scientists are finding it difficult to maintain labs and are leaving academia to pursue careers in the private sector.

To protect the contribution of established researchers and sustain the progress of promising research, the Ellison Medical Foundation in partnership with AFAR is increasing its commitment to the Julie Martin Mid-Career Awards in Aging Research.

Established in 2005, the Julie Martin Mid-Career Awards in Aging Research provides funding for mid-career scientists engaged in innovative research that has the potential for higher yield in advancing understanding of basic mechanisms of aging. This kind of research is often considered too risky for traditional sources of funding but has the potential to spearhead research progress in basic aging processes and the connection to age-related diseases and disorders.

Investigators will compete for grants of $550,000 each in 2008 and 2009. Candidates include not only scientists already engaged in aging research but also scientists’ whose research is relevant to the biology of aging which could lead to novel approaches.

“While AFAR-supported grant programs have traditionally focused on early-career scientists, it is also important to sustain that investment in our scientists at all stages of their careers,” said Stephanie Lederman. This generous grant can make all the difference in allowing years of painstaking research to continue.”

“Mid-career scientists, with newly acquired tenure, are at a unique career stage. Freed from worry about getting tenure and job stability, they have more intellectual freedom than they have ever had before. We hope to empower them to try riskier research with great potential pay-off, for themselves and for an aging society.”


Aging :: AFAR/Ellison Medical Foundation increase commitment to scientists studying aging
by ( Author at Spirit India )
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