We think we've hit upon an innovative way to get research materials into the hands of researchers and involve the whole scientific community, from volunteer reviewers to private and corporate donors. We're excited to launch this initiative!
Virginia Beach, Virginia (PRWEB) January 25, 2017
A small biotechnology startup in Virgnina Beach, known for an even smaller proprietary technology (the DIAMOND(TM) mouse) is standing up to advocate for funding of academic research labs, the "little guys", in a very big way. As the CEO of Sanyal Biotechnology, Dr. Rebecca Caffrey, explains it, "We have a new mouse model that is much, much better than any other animal model on the market for researching the liver diseases that result from the diabetes and obesity epidemics--specifically NAFLD and NASH. We get a lot of requests from academic labs who have great ideas and could do top-notch research if they could only get the tissue from our mice, but they don't have grant funding to afford to pay for a study. This has bothered Dr. Sanyal and I for months. How can we afford as a start-up with so little operating capital to share tissue with these academic labs? Then we hit upon the idea of building a tissue bank, having an actual grant program, and asking for donations from the public and our corporate partners through a gofundme page to cover the costs of the grant program. The idea has been very well received."
Sanyal Biotechnology is now beginning to build the tissue bank and will be making biological samples from that bank available, free of charge, to academic researchers who cannot afford to pay for them. Sanyal Bio specializes in research into Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, Fatty Liver and Non-Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis (NASH); it intend to make grants of blood, liver, and other tissues to researchers who apply for the program, #KeepScienceAlive through its Sanyal Bio website on the #KeepScienceAlive tab. Applications for research materials will be judged by a panel of volunteer university faculty members and industry experts; grant awards will be announced to the public on the company website. Awardees must pledge to publish their results so that others can learn from their research. Sanyal Bio's goal is to collect enough tissue to support a minimum of 50 research studies in 2017, and more in 2018.
Why is Sanyal Bio undertaking this huge endeavor now? The company was founded by a group of scientists who understand how hard it is to compete for very limited amounts of grant money to fund medical research. In the US, the vast majority of medical research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the NIH's budget has been steadily decreasing, leading to intense competition for grants. From 2003-2015, the NIH lost 22% of its capacity to fund research due to budget cuts, sequestration, and inflation. It is particularly difficult for young investigators and junior faculty to get grants, because they cannot afford to buy materials to generate data that supports a grant application. They truly are caught in a catch-22. By donating tissue to researchers who are unfunded or under-funded, Sanyal Bio is enabling them to do the research that helps them compete for grant funding from other sources and advances scientific understanding of Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and liver disease.
Why is Sanyal Bio doing this now? The tone projected by the incoming administration has been particularly anti-science. Many in the scientific community have expressed grave concern that the NIH and NSF budgets will be cut by politicians who don't understand or appreciate the importance of biomedical research. We at Sanyal Bio sincerely hope that these fears are unfounded, and we hope that our elected officials will see to it that all government research institutions, including the NIH, are generously funded so that scientists can continue to make innovative discoveries that advance our understanding of these diseases and find new ways to treat them. Regardless, we pledge to do our part to help support biomedical research and continued innovation.
Caffrey commented, "So many people have never heard of NASH--Non Alcoholic SteatoHepatitis, and 10% of the US population already have NASH and most don't know it--these folks are stampeding towards cirrhosis and possible liver failure. NASH is rapidly becoming the #1 reason that people are placed on the liver transplant list. Research into NASH is critical--our #KeepScienceAlive campaign will get tissue samples into the hands of researchers who can make a difference and get us closer to a cure. I hope that our corporate partners and citizens whose families have been impacted by diabetes and NASH will step up and give to our campaign so we can give as many grants as possible."