The goal of the SPORE Development Research Program is to promote new ideas directed toward the SPORE translational melanoma research. SPORE guidelines mandate diligent efforts to identify and fund pilot projects by providing a formal Developmental Research Program (DRP) that will highlight and support new research endeavors, whether collaborative among scientists within one or more SPOREs, or with new scientists outside the SPORE environment, that may eventually reduce the incidence and morbidity or increase the survival of melanoma patients. Both laboratory and clinical research projects are eligible for funding although the projects must aim toward a translational goal. A portion of the NCI SPORE budget ($75,000 per year) will be allocated annually to support these pilot projects. With matching funds (an additional $100,000 per year for each the DRP and CDP) provided by the M.D. Anderson as part of its nstitutional commitment to the SPORE, we have had $175,000 each year to support the DRP in Melanoma. Over these 4.5 years the SPORE DRP has supported 36 DRP in melanoma awards. The number of awards offered each year varied, depending on funds, based in large part on the actual balance due to whether previously funded projects were approved for a second year of funding. Our results, show that SPORE funds greatly enhanced and expanded the potential for development of new projects in which preliminary data was required before the project could move to a full SPORE project, or compete for other funding. We have achieved the specific objectives of the DRP. The 36 different projects funded to date represent investigators from 16 different Departments and Divisions at M.D. Anderson as well as at our neighboring institutions, including the U.T. Medical Branch at Galveston. Although our SPORE is young, and the early awardees just now are seeing the results of their funding, this effort has led to significant progress including 4 DRP investigators now included as Co-Leaders of full projects, 43 manuscripts submitted, and/or published. Twenty-one grants were submitted with 14 of these receiving funding and 4 under review at this time. These advances are evidence of the importance and success of the SPORE Developmental Research Program to melanoma research overall as well as to our local efforts at M.D. Anderson. Our plans are to continue this program by solicitation of proposals for a maximum of $50,000 each, and provide the initial installment of $25,000 followed by an additional $25,000 if the initial goals are met and the progress and need can be justified to the Executive and lAB committees.
The DRP has greatly impacted the scope and breadth of melanoma research at M.D. Anderson. Through these DRP grants we have increased the number of researchers involved in looking at fundamental questions of melanoma biology that are designed to translate into successful new treatments and other interventions for patients with this disease.
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