Announcing our 2015 Emerging Investigator Awards $62,500 Finalist Grantee

We’re excited to announce Dr. Erkan Osman of the University of Missouri as the 2015 $62,500 Finalist grantee for the Emerging Investigator Award (EIA). The EIA is an annual recognition established by the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation and FightSMA.

Since creating the EIA in 2013, the two nonprofit organizations have awarded more than $500,000 to innovative, next-generation scientists working toward treatments for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the leading genetic cause of infant death.

The $62,500 award will support Dr. Osman’s work over the next year to identify and define genetic targets within the disease-causing SMN gene.

“Ever since my decision to become a researcher,” said Dr. Osman, “my career goals have been focused on spinal muscular atrophy and SMA therapeutics.

“SMA research has advanced tremendously over the last decade,” said Dr. Osman, “and we are at the point where SMA-specific compounds are now in clinical trials. However, it is necessary that additional therapeutic targets are identified and expanded. Development of potential therapeutics for these high-impact targets will be essential for such a complex disease.

“The molecular context of SMA makes this disease especially attractive for nucleic acid-based therapeutics like antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) designed to modulate pre-mRNA splicing,” he said.

“The state of SMA research is extremely encouraging and we are grateful for the opportunity to continue supporting critical SMA research,” said Bill Strong, co-founder of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. “We are especially excited about Dr. Osman’s focus of expanding the treatment targets for all impacted by SMA.”

“The Emerging Investigator Awards are evidence of the commitment of our two organizations to keep working hard to identify the most promising compounds to develop for clinical trials,” said Joe Slay, Chair of FightSMA. “The Awards are also designed to encourage the best young talent across the globe to enter and stay in the SMA field.”

Past Emerging Investigator Award grantees:

  • Ottawa Hospital Research Institute: Dr. Lyndsay Murray
  • Johns Hopkins School of Medicine: Dr. Constantin d’Ydewalle
  • Cincinnati Children’s Hospital: Dr. Steven Crone
  • University of Missouri: Dr. Hansjorg Rindt
  • Ohio State University: Dr. Kevin Foust
  • Uniformed Services Univ. of the Health Sciences: Dr. Barrington G. Burnett
  • Indiana University School of Medicine: Dr. Sara Custer
  • Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario: Dr. Faraz Farooq
  • University of Oxford: Dr. Melissa Bowerman
  • University of Missouri: Dr. Erkan Osman
  • Indiana University School of Medicine: Dr. Anne Rietz
  • Columbia University: Dr. Eileen Workman