Three ‘Emerging Investigator’ Grantees Named by FightSMA and Gwendolyn Strong Foundation

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Each winner receives $27,500 for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) research.

Emerging Investigator Awards Grantees

Our goal was to bolster the existing SMA research landscape by ensuring that emerging talent and fresh approaches are encouraged and supported.

Two organizations dedicated to defeating the childhood neuromuscular disorder spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) announced today three winners of the “FightSMA and Gwendolyn Strong Foundation Emerging Investigator Awards.”

The awards, conceived jointly by the two organizations, are designed to draw strong, innovative talent into SMA research, according to FightSMA Chair Mike Calise. The winners were chosen from a field of promising young investigators ranging from recent PhD graduates engaged in post-doctoral fellowships up to assistant professors within the first two years of their appointment.

“We’re excited to make these awards for a second year,” said Bill Strong, co-founder of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. “Our goal was to bolster the existing SMA research landscape by ensuring that emerging talent and fresh approaches are encouraged and supported, and we continue to be inspired by the quality of grant applications received from major SMA research institutions.”

The three winners were announced at the annual FightSMA research conference held April 10-11, 2014 in Washington, D.C., each of whom will receive a $27,500 award. They are:

Barrington G. Burnett, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anatomy, Physiology, and Genetics
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Sara Custer, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Dermatology
Indiana University School of Medicine

Faraz Farooq, Ph.D.
Associate Scientist
Apoptosis Research Center
Research Institute II
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

FightSMA ( ) is a 23-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to finding a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of infant death. The group has awarded research grants at more than 40 universities and research institutions in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy.

The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation ( is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing global awareness of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), accelerating research, and supporting families impacted by SMA and other life-altering conditions. The GSF motto: “NEVER GIVE UP.”

For more information, contact: joe.slay(at)slaycommunications(dot)com.

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