RARE Daily

Uplifting Athletes Issues $140,000 in Rare Disease Research Grants

April 1, 2021

Rare Daily Staff

The nonprofit Uplifting Athletes awarded a total of $140,000 in medical research grants at its Young Investigator Draft, presented by CSL Behring, to seven promising young researchers.

Each researcher received an unrestricted $20,000 grant to support their work in finding new treatments—and potentially cures—for rare diseases. The grant recipients were announced at the event by current players from the National Football League who have been engaged with Uplifting Athletes since college.

“Our Young Investigator Draft shines a spotlight on the critical need for rare disease research and honors researchers who are making an impact,” said Rob Long, executive director of Uplifting Athletes. “We believe these all-star scientists deserve to be lauded with the same excitement and fanfare afforded to college and professional athletes, many of whom partner closely with us to leverage their own platforms to support our mission.”

The Young Investigator Draft is inspired by the NFL Draft, but shifts the focus from the selection of emerging talent on the football field to recognizing the next generation of promising researchers. The draft is one of several signature initiatives created by Uplifting Athletes to raise awareness and research funding for rare diseases. This year’s celebration was held virtually and streamed live across Uplifting Athletes’ social media channels.

The researchers awarded grants include:

  • Peter M.J. Quinn, genetics, Columbia University, nominated by Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation
  • Sarah Sheppard, genetics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, nominated by Lymphangiomatosis & Gorham’s Disease Alliance
  • Timothy Hines, neuroscience, The Jackson Laboratory, nominated by Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association
  • Qinglan Ling, genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, nominated by Cure SURF1 Foundation
  • Adele Mossa, neuroscience, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, nominated by DDX3X Foundation
  • Neha Nagpal, genetics, Boston Children’s Hospital, nominated by Team Telomere
  • Ukpong Eyo, neuroscience, University of Virginia, nominated by SLC6A1 Connect

Grant submissions for the Young Investigator Draft were evaluated by an expert panel of scientific advisors, and advanced through two stages of review prior to final selection. Each of the 2021 grant recipients was nominated by a patient advocacy organization recognized by Uplifting Athletes as a priority partner for this year’s draft, with grants equally co-funded by Uplifting Athletes and the nominating PAO.

The 2021 draft marked the first to highlight Uplifting Athletes’ Underrepresented Researchers in Medicine initiative. The initiative aims to provide opportunities for rare disease researchers from diverse backgrounds, and to celebrate and fund their work through the draft. Uplifting Athletes aspires to lead the change in representation in medicine and medical research and help all rare disease patients feel represented and inspired by the Young Investigator Draft honorees.

Photo: Rob Long, executive director of Uplifting Athletes

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