DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS

U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command


September 10, 2003

Department of Defense Neurofibromatosis Research Awards

Award negotiations for the fiscal year 2002 (FY02) Department of Defense (DOD) Neurofibromatosis Research Program (NFRP) have been completed. The office of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) received $21 million (M) from Congress in FY02 to fund peer reviewed neurofibromatosis (NF) research. Of the 76 proposals received in response to the March 5, 2002 Program Announcement, 18 were recommended for funding.

Since 1996, the DOD has been responsible for managing $90.3 M in congressional appropriations for neurofibromatosis research. The NFRP has funded research that is targeted toward the program's vision to decrease the impact of NF. The DOD NFRP has developed a multidisciplinary research portfolio that encompasses basic, clinical, and population-based research projects. The FY02 NFRP supported six award mechanisms: Career Development, Clinical Trial, Idea, Investigator-Initiated Research, New Investigator, and Therapeutic Development Awards. Postdoctoral trainees were supported through nested awards in the Investigator-Initiated Research Awards. The Career Development Award was offered for the first time in FY02. This mechanism was designed to encourage established scientists or research clinicians that are currently working in areas other than NF to shift their focus to NF research.

Award negotiations for all FY02 awards have been completed. The NFRP has a particular interest in finding and developing new treatments for neurofibromatosis. Toward that end, the FY02 NFRP awarded one Therapeutic Development Award to Dr. Westley Friesen from PTC Therapeutics to develop nonsense suppressors for the treatment of neurofibromatosis type I. Greater than 32% of NF1 patients have nonsense mutations in their NF1 genes. Nonsense suppressors would allow the production of full-length NF1, thus overcoming this genetic defect.

In addition, the FY02 NFRP funded 4 Idea Awards, 8 Investigator-Initiated Research Awards, 4 New Investigator Awards, and 1 Career Development Award covering such topics as modeling NF1-associated astrocytomas, genomic profiling of NF-associated tumors, therapeutic approached to NF1-related tumors, molecular/cellular functions of the NF1 and NF2 gene products, and identification of the Schwannomatosis locus. To look at these awards in more detail, please visit our web site under the Neurofibromatosis Research Program tab at http://cdmrp.army.mil.

Point of Contact: Gail Whitehead, 301-619-7783, gail.whitehead@amedd.army.mil