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Grants seed medical research
By Chris Barnett / June 6, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...
The Rhode Island Foundation is awarding nearly $400,000 in seed funding to 17 promising medical research projects. The work ranges from measuring the connection between sleep and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in pre-teens to a study devoted to developing new strategies for reducing opioid-use disorder.


The grants are designed to help early-career researchers advance projects to the point where they can compete for national funding. With this round of grants, the Foundation has awarded more than $2.2 million since 2008.

“Thanks to the commitment of our generous donors, local researchers working to achieve medical advances have a crucial source of seed funding,” said Neil Steinberg, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “Our hope is that their successes will lead to healthier lives as well as a healthier economy.”

A review panel made up of scientists and physicians assisted the Foundation in reviewing the proposals, which include the ADHD and opioid-use disorder studies.

Bradley Hospital received $25,000 for a research project entitled “Tracking Real-world Sleep to Predict Brain Maturation in a School-sample of ADHD” led by Jared M. Saletin, Ph.D, research associate with Bradley’s Sleep for Science Research Laboratory and PediMIND Research Program as well as an assistant professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School.

A group of children aged 10-13 will complete 12 weeks of real-world sleep-tracking using a combination of online sleep diaries and wearable, sleep-activity-monitoring devices. The goal is to measure the associations between sleep and MRI-measured brain development in children with ADHD.

“ADHD is among the most prevalent disorders of childhood, affecting nearly 10 percent of children. In addition to struggles with academics and motivation, children with ADHD commonly have poor sleep—a factor that may exacerbate their other difficulties. Our study hopes to directly link sleep patterns to the brain changes associated with ADHD in a hope to lead to future treatments and interventions based on healthy sleep,” said Saletin.

The University of Rhode Island received $23,776 for a project entitled “New Methods to Evaluate the Effects of Opioids in Provider-Based Networks,” led by Ashley Buchanan, Dr.PH, assistant professor of pharmacy practice.

According to the state Department of Health, there were 336 drug overdose deaths last year, up 16 percent from 2015. Fifty-eight percent of the overdose deaths in 2016 were associated with the synthetic opioid fentanyl, up 11 percent from 2015.

“What often begins as treatment for pain management, evolves into opioid use disorders and eventual mortality. Research to date has been impeded due to a lack of methods to estimate how prescription opioids permeate a provider-based network. The results of this project will better inform how providers can employ network-based interventions to prevent and treat opioid-use disorder,” said Buchanan.

The remaining research grant recipients are:
• Brown University was awarded $25,000 for “Evaluation of Vaccine Potential for Five Malaria Antigens Identified in Disease Resistant Children,” led by Dipak K Raj, Ph.D.
• Miriam Hospital was awarded $24,914 for “Proactive Tobacco Treatment in a Medicaid Health Home,” led by Sandra J. Japuntich, Ph.D.
• The Ocean State Research Institute was awarded $25,000 for “Post Hospital Community Pharmacist Medication Therapy Management for Heart Failure,” led by Lisa B Cohen, Pharm.D.
• Rhode Island College was awarded $20,566 for “DNA Polymerase Theta and its Potential Role in Cancer,” led by Jamie Towle-Weicksel, Ph.D.
• Rhode Island Hospital was awarded $25,000 for “Chemotherapy Effects on Acute Myeloid Leukemia Extracellular Vesicles,” led by John Reagan, M.D.
• Rhode Island Hospital was awarded $18,414 for “LITAF, A Novel Regulator of Cardiac Excitation,” led by Karni S. Moshal, Ph.D.
• Rhode Island Hospital was awarded $25,000 for “Role of Mitochondrial Calcium Uniporter for Heart Failure Development,” led by Jin O-Uchi, M.D., Ph.D.
• Rhode Island Hospital was awarded $25,000 for “Comprehensive Treatment for Childhood Adolescent Drug Resistant Tuberculous,” led by Silvia S. Chiang, M.D.
• Rhode Island Hospital was awarded $25,000 for “The Placental Microbiome and its Relationship to Fetal Growth,” led by Emily A. McDonald, Ph.D.
• Rhode Island Hospital was awarded $12,500 for “Real-time Gene Expression Detection in Live Animals for Osteoarthritis Diagnosis,” led by Hongchuan Yu, Ph.D.
• The University of Rhode Island was awarded $22,788 for “Identifying Bacterial Species in the Serum Microbiota of Type II Diabetics,” led by Matthew Ramsey, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
• The University of Rhode Island was awarded $25,000 for “Metamaterials-based Near-field Biosensing for Early Detection of Lung Cancer,” led by Yi Zheng, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
• The University of Rhode Island was awarded $25,000 for “Engineer Extracellular Vesicles for Vaccination & Immunotherapy against Cancer,” led by Yuan Zhang, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
• The University of Rhode Island was awarded $25,000 for “Regulation of Transcription by Mutant Swi/Snf Complexes,” led by Arnob Dutta, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
• The University of Rhode Island was awarded $25,000 for “A Carbon Nanotube Reporter to Quantify the Permeability of Tumor Spheroid Models,” led by Daniel Roxbury, Ph.D.

The funding came through 17 endowments at the Foundation that help medical researchers win permanent funding from national sources. They are the Alice W. Bliss Memorial Fund, Charles V. Chapin Fellowship Fund, Haire Family Fund, Colonel Lee Walton & Xenia Roberts Memorial Fund, Samuel J. and Ester Chester Medical Research Fund, Phebe Parker Fund, Alice Newton Fund, Esther S. Phillips Fund, Gilbert J. Clappin, Jr. Memorial Fund, Edythe K. & Jane E. Richmond Memorial Cancer Fund, Mary A. Young Cancer Fund, Frieda Dengal Fund, Charles Goss Memorial Fund, Herbert E. Hopkins Fund, John O. Strom, M.D. Memorial Fund, Marquise d’Andigne Fund and Richard N. and Beverly E. Carr Fund.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. In 2016, the Foundation awarded a record $45 million in grants to organizations addressing the state’s most pressing issues and needs of diverse communities. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.

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