$50 million gift to Fralin Biomedical Research Institute will fund brain and cancer research
$50 million in new funding is headed to the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. The money is from Red Gates Foundation, which is based in Richmond, and will fund research into brain science and cancer.
“We’re very excited for what this is going to mean for patience, not only here locally throughout the Commonwealth, but globally as well,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, or FBRI.
He said the money will fund research for five years and will pay for 14 new faculty positions. Most new hires will be based at FBRI at the Virginia Tech Carilion campus in Roanoke, studying different types of cancer, as well as neurological conditions, including strokes and seizures. One example is a study where researchers can measure chemicals like dopamine and serotonin in the brains of children who suffer from seizures.
“So for the first time we’re gonna have insights as to what’s going on in the brains of these seizing children with respect to these important chemicals and whether they can be therapeutic targets for trying to modulate or reduce the seizures,” Friedlander said.
Another research project, Led by Anthony Lamantia, will look at Parkinson’s disease, and understanding the underlying genetic impacts of how nerve cells in the brain are wired together and talk to each other through synaptic connections.
“And potentially develop a new combination therapy, targeting these changes that occur in the mitochondria of nerve cells in the brains of patients with Parkinson’s,” Friedlander said.
A few of the new researchers will be based in Washington D.C. to study pediatric cancer, at the Children’s National Hospital, which partners with FBRI.
Friedlander said recruitment has already begun, and they hope to have new researchers in place by next spring. Clinical trials for some of the studies could begin within a few years.