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Grant Helps Student Research Childhood Leukemia


Donor recalls difficulty securing funds to jumpstart small research projects

A timely grant from the AMA Foundation enabled MD/PhD student Lynn A. Rudner, PhD, to complete research work prior to earning her doctorate. 

“The timing of the seed grant enabled me, personally, to work on a specific segment of our research before I completed my PhD and left the lab to work in the medical school clinical section,” explained Dr. Rudner, who thanked the donors who made possible her grant through the AMA Foundation Seed Grant Research Program.

Nikolaus Trede's lab at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, where Dr. Rudner completed her PhD, concentrates on research examining the underlying biological causes that lead to T cell leukemia in children. Eventually this research may be used to help develop targeted therapies effective against T cell leukemia. 

“As a researcher myself, I know how difficult it is to get research projects off the ground,” commented David E. Winchester, MD, who has a long-term relationship with the AMA Foundation as a donor, Leadership Award recipient and selection committee member. “The Foundation program is … a relatively unique opportunity in the world of research funding.”

There are few national funding opportunities available to young researchers just starting out, particularly on a smaller scale.  The Seed Grant Research Program was established to encourage medical students, physician residents and fellows to consider research as a career option.  The program provides one-year grants of up to $2,500 to help them conduct small research projects.

Because of her long-term interest in research, Dr. Rudner chose to undertake a MD/PhD at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. She says that she enjoyed working in Dr. Trede’s lab on pediatric cancer research and is likely to continue in a similar research area after completing her degree.

The lab at the Huntsman Cancer Institute has been studying a newly discovered zebrafish model of heritable T cell cancer for more than three years. The researchers employ genetic and cellular techniques to help understand the mutation that facilitates T cell cancer.

While the Trede lab is supported by NIH grants, the AMA Foundation seed grant helped fund a separate segment of the research that Dr. Rudner was interested in pursuing.