On Saturday evening, the IMF holds their Annual Grant Reception where there is a mix of researchers, doctors, nurses, pharma partners, and patients! This is a very unique opportunity for patients to mingle and ask questions from those involved in multiple myeloma from bench to bedside.
This evening is where the IMF presents their Annual Junior and Senior Grant Awards to researchers and myeloma experts. The IMF established these annual grants nearly 21 years ago to promote research into better treatments, management, prevention, and a cure! I think it is important for us to know that these grants are through private individuals and IMF Member Events. So we, as patients, can have a direct impact on future research and quite possibly future myeloma treatment!
A few years ago at ASH, I had the opportunity to chat with one of the IMF award recipients. She was very thankful, but excited and eager, to get back to the lab and continue her research. The very next year, I bumped into her again at ASH. She shared with me that due to her grant from the IMF, she had a Poster at ASH! Quite an accomplishment!
This year’s recipients included:
- Four Senior Grants ($100,000 each);
- Five Junior Grants ($50,000 each); and
- Two IMF Japan Research Grant Awards
I’ll focus on just one of the Awards/Abstracts and who funded it too. I thank and congratulate all recipients and those that held IMF Member Events to fund research for our futures! You can go to this link for all grant details: http://bit.ly/1TFSO68
Senior Grant Awardee:
- Yang Yang, MD, PhD – Birmingham, AL (2nd year funding)
Very interesting abstract: Myeloma prefers to grow in bone and spreads from the original bone sites to new bone sites. What cause myeloma cells to spread is unclear. Recent work in their laboratory has demonstrated that one factor called Runx2 is a major driver of myeloma progression in bone and the spread to new bone sites. The goal of this project is to discover how Runx2 makes myeloma cells gain the ability to grow faster and spread to bone. This study will provide insights into myeloma research and help in developing new targeted drugs for myeloma treatment!
- This Senior Grant Award was funded by Miracles for Myeloma 5K in honor of Sheree Pask and Frank Guarino and in memory of Paula Van Riper.
In addition to the grants being awarded, we also heard from patients doing very well on newly approved treatments.
- Linda Huguelet spoke first on her experience on VELCADE®, both pre- and post- transplant, in combination and also SubQ. Linda was diagnosed in 2010, has a great quality of life, and is a support group leader in Chattanooga, Tennessee, along with her husband, Jack.
- Carolyn Higgins spoke on the importance of participating in clinical trials and challenged the doctors to keep coming up with new trials. Carolyn was diagnosed in 2007 and has been on VELCADE®. She was then on a phase II trial of Darzalex (daratumumab) + pomalidomide/dexamethasone. And currently, she is on Empliciti (elotuzumab) + trial (phase 1 2009 to 2015).
- Donald Clayton is enjoying life and “Glamping” with his wife Linda. Don was diagnosed in 2008 and has been on Ninlaro (ixazomib) since 2010, almost at 100 cycles!
- Nick Menedis spoke passionately of his diagnosis and then being a “Giver” and stepping up to start up a support group in Columbus, Ohio, to reach out to his local myeloma community. Nick thanked the IMF for their personal care and commitment to help all patients and caregivers each step of the way.
Many of the researchers that accepted awards commented that they will continue to work hard and their inspiration will come from the patients that they met tonight.
The night capped off with a wonderful surprise. Kristi Willette stepped up to the mic and presented the IMF with a check in the amount of $100,000 to support myeloma research!
Thanks to Kristi, who leads the Willette Charitable Foundation, and to all donors to help fund IMF research for the Cure!