GSF and FightSMA Announce Second-Year Grant to SMA Researcher Dr. Kevin Foust

Two organizations with long histories of advancing research to defeat the childhood neuromuscular disease, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), have announced a second-year grant of $58,750 to Emerging Investigator Award (EIA) winner Dr. Kevin Foust of The Ohio State University.

Dr. Foust was earlier awarded an EIA grant in 2013 of $25,000 from the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation and FightSMA.

Since its creation in 2013 by the two research funding organizations, the Emerging Investigator Awards program has provided more than $500,000 to scientists who are among the most outstanding of the upcoming generation of SMA researchers.

“SMA research has made amazing strides over the last few years,” said Mike Calise, Chair of FightSMA, “but it’s vital that we keep up the momentum. These newly conceived second-year grants help provide continuity in the labs.”

“It’s rewarding—and exciting—that we are able to precisely target research funding to labs that are doing some of the most important work in SMA,” said Bill Strong, co-founder of the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation. “We’re particularly encouraged by Dr. Foust’s focus on SMA’s impact on the gastrointestinal function – an underappreciated and underfunded area of SMA research.”

“We are investigating the neurological control of the gastrointestinal tract in mouse models of SMA,” said Dr. Foust. “We believe SMN (Survival of Motor Neuron) deficiency interferes with the nerves that control gastrointestinal motility and causes reflux and constipation in some patients.

“The Gwendolyn Strong Foundation and FightSMA award is crucial for continuing our work because it pays for key personnel and resources needed for our experiments,” said Dr. Foust. “Our goals are to increase understanding of the SMA disease process so that new therapeutic approaches can be developed to alleviate symptoms and improve patient quality of life.”

FightSMA is a 24-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 nearly 50 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 is: “NEVER GIVE UP.”