LSDF announces $15M in program grant to enhance diagnosis and treatment of cancer

The Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF) today announced nearly $15 million in program grant awards to support collaborative research initiatives spearheaded by three Washington state life sciences organizations.

The programs will utilize diverse approaches to enhance the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other major diseases.

One program, led by Stephen Friend of Sage Bionetworks, will use powerful computational tools to create better models of complex biological systems and identify molecular pathways that can be targeted to develop safer and more effective drugs and diagnostic tests.

A second program, headed by Thomas Matula at the University of Washington, will combine ultrasound technologies with cutting-edge molecular medicine approaches to more accurately image tumors and enhance drug delivery to diseased tissues.

The third program, directed by Peggy Porter of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, will establish a multi-institutional system for collecting and distributing the biological specimens required to advance cancer research, diagnosis, and therapy.

According to LSDF executive director Lee Huntsman, each award is anticipated to yield great returns on LSDF's investment. "These world-class teams will create critical information, material, and technological resources that are expected to provide competitive advantages to Washington's researchers and companies and, ultimately, accelerate the development of new diagnostics and therapeutics for serious health conditions." Huntsman also noted that LSDF support will further advance Washington's leadership positions in computational research, systems biology, and ultrasound.

The LSDF board of trustees selected the awardees from among 19 proposals that were evaluated by national experts convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In a highly competitive two-phase process, proposals were rated on scientific merit and the potential to improve health and health care in Washington and provide statewide economic benefit.

Funding for these awards comes from Washington's allocation of bonus payments under the Master Tobacco Settlement.

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