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FightSMA Research Conference To Be Held April 7-9, 2016 in Alexandria, VA

March 10, 2016 - FightSMA is marking its 25th year with an international research conference April 7-9 in Alexandria, VA, that will see the gathering of leading spinal muscular atrophy researchers and the naming of 2016 Emerging Investigator Award (EIA) winners.

FightSMA is an all-volunteer, parent-led nonprofit with a mission to strategically accelerate research for a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the number-one inherited cause of infant death.

“We are thrilled with the participants that we are hosting for this year’s research conference,” said FightSMA Co-Founder Martha Slay.  “Some of these men and women have been laboring in the SMA field for many years, and others are new to the fight. It will be a dynamic conference.”

“FightSMA’s annual research meeting is an extraordinary opportunity for the best and brightest in the research community to come together for open, productive discussions,” said FightSMA Research Director Dr. Chris Lorson of the University of Missouri. “The meeting is an exciting forum not just for sharing data, but also for charting the paths ahead.”

Participating institutions include:

  • AveXis
  • Biogen
  • Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario 
  • Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
  • Columbia University
  • Cytokinetics
  • F.Hoffmann-LaRoche
  • Ionis
  • Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Medical College of Wisconsin
  • National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH
  • National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH
  • Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Northwestern University and Lurie Children’s Hospital
  • Novartis Institutes of Biomedical Research
  • Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • PTC Therapeutics
  • RaNA Therapeutics
  • Sarepta Therapeutics
  • SMA Foundation
  • The Ohio State University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences
  • University of Missouri

The FightSMA annual research meeting is the occasion for recognition of the most recent awardees in the Emerging Investigator Awards (EIA) competition, established three years ago by FightSMA and the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. The program has provided more than $500,000 in EIA awards.

“FightSMA’s annual research meeting and the Emerging Investigator Award Program support novel research projects and provide the forum to rigorously challenge these new concepts,” said Dr. Barrington G. Burnett of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD, a past winner.

Past Emerging Investigator Award winners and their institutions are:

  • Edinburgh University: Dr. Lyndsay Murray
  • Johns Hopkins School of Medicine: Dr. Constantin d’Ydewalle
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital: Dr. Steven Crone
  • University of Missouri: Dr. Hansjorg Rindt
  • Ohio State University: Dr. Kevin Foust
  • Uniformed Services Univ. of the Health Sciences: Dr. Barrington G. Burnett
  • Indiana University School of Medicine: Dr. Sara Custer
  • Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario: Dr. Faraz Farooq
  • University of Oxford: Dr. Melissa Bowerman
  • University of Missouri: Dr. Erkan Osman
  • Indiana University School of Medicine: Dr. Anne Reitz
  • Columbia University: Dr. Eileen Workman

FightSMA (http://www.fightsma.org) is an all-volunteer, parent-led nonprofit dedicated to finding a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of infant death. The group has awarded research grants at 45 universities and research institutions in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy.

Celebrating its 25th year, FightSMA was an early funder of the hunt for the SMA gene. FightSMA has funded high-throughput screening for SMN gene upregulation, SMA mouse model research, SMA gene therapy research, and other SMA projects. Its annual international research meeting has been held for 20 years. FightSMA played a leadership role in the successful passage of the National Pediatric Research Network Act in 2013.