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ASH Bridge Grant Program Funds 15 Promising Biomedical Research Projects

(WASHINGTON, April 16, 2018) — Today, ASH announced the names of 15 investigators, each of whom has been awarded $150,000 through the ASH Bridge Grant Program. Designed to support promising hematology research proposals that score well but cannot be funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) because of budget uncertainty, these ASH Bridge Grants will ensure that innovative research continues at institutions in 12 states.

The NIH is the world’s top provider of medical research grants. Though the agency recently received a welcome $3 billion funding increase for FY 2018, NIH continues to struggle after over a decade of flat funding and spending reductions that have drastically reduced its ability to fund groundbreaking research. The increase was received during a time when the Administration proposed freezing the agency’s funding in FY 2019, creating an uncertain environment for researchers seeking backing for multi-year research efforts.

The ASH Bridge Grants are designed to serve as a one-year bridge for researchers facing gaps in multi-year funding, giving them financial support to continue their studies and strengthen their grant applications without the need to pare down laboratory staff or to pause or end their work.

“With federal budget uncertainty from year to year, the ASH Bridge Grants remain a necessary lifeline for promising biomedical researchers that might otherwise not be funded,” said ASH President Alexis A. Thompson, MD, MPH, of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Today’s announcement coincides with the publication of a commentary in Blood Advances, a journal of the American Society of Hematology, by two ASH members influential in founding the program. The authors review the successes of the Bridge Grants program since its launch in 2013 and call on other medical organizations to implement similar programs to support scientific research advancements in the absence of strong, stable federal support.

More than 70 percent of ASH Bridge Grant recipients have gone on to receive an NIH research project grant (R01) compared to just over 35 percent of all scientists who submit amended R01 applications. Additionally, over 70 percent of recipients surveyed report successfully publishing their findings, and several have gone on to patent their work.

“These grants are critical to advancing science and public health while maintaining America’s biomedical workforce and our competitive edge in pioneering and exporting biopharmaceutical technology,” said Janis Abkowitz, MD, of University of Washington and president of ASH when the program launched in 2013.

Encompassing a host of basic, translational, and clinical hematology research, projects funded in this 10th round of the ASH Bridge Grant Program include work that will advance the understanding of risk factors of blood diseases such as acute myeloid leukemia and sickle cell disease. Since April 2013, ASH has awarded nearly $14 million in Bridge Grant support to 107 investigators.

The American Society of Hematology (ASH) (www.hematology.org) is the world’s largest professional society of hematologists dedicated to furthering the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders affecting the blood. For more than 50 years, the Society has led the development of hematology as a discipline by promoting research, patient care, education, training, and advocacy in hematology. ASH publishes Blood (www.bloodjournal.org), the most cited peer-reviewed publication in the field, which is available weekly in print and online. In 2016, ASH launched Blood Advances (www.bloodadvances.org), an online, peer-reviewed open-access journal.

Stephen Fitzmaurice American Society of Hematology
[email protected]; 202-552-4927