Hope Through Research

At MDA, we take a big picture perspective across the full spectrum of neuromuscular diseases to uncover scientific and medical breakthroughs that accelerate treatments and cures. The power in our research approach is that we can often apply learnings from one disease to progress in others to bring urgently-needed answers to our families.

Research Staff and Contacts

For general inquiries, please contact us at grants@mdausa.org.

Valerie A. Cwik, M.D.

Executive Vice President & Chief Medical and Scientific Officer

Oversees the Clinic Grants Program; oversees activities of the Research department; and provides guidance on scientific and medical matters for the Association.

Grace K. Pavlath, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President - Scientific Program Director

Provides scientific leadership for MDA's research department through interactions with federal agencies, international neuromuscular disease partners, drug development groups and pharmaceutical companies, as well as with patient advocacy groups and other neuromuscular disease stakeholders.

Laura Hagerty, Ph.D.

Scientific Program Officer

Manages basic and translational research portfolios relating to muscular dystrophies such as Duchenne (DMD), Becker (BMD), Facioscapulohumeral (FSHD), Emery-Dreifuss (EDMD) and oculopharyngeal (OPMD).

Amanda Haidet-Phillips, Ph.D.

Scientific Program Officer

Manages basic and translational research portfolios relating to motor and peripheral neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT), as well as neuromuscular junction diseases.

Lianna Orlando, Ph.D.

Scientific Program Officer

Manages basic and translational research portfolios relating to myopathies including inflammatory, metabolic and mitochondrial myopothies, in addition to muscular dystrophies such as myotonic (DM), limb-girdle (LGMD) and congenital (CMD).

Karen Smith

Grants Manager

Responsible for the administration of MDA's Research Grants Program. Contact for general research grants administration questions, reports, funding histories, committee meeting information, board reports, annual reports, Animal Care and Use Approvals, Internal Review Board Approvals and committed expenses.

Hanna Bridges-Curry

Grants Specialist

Responsible for the administration of MDA's Venture Philanthropy (MVP) and Human Clinical Trial Grant (HCGT) programs. Contact for all matters related to these funding programs.

Dawn Marie Bogdanowich

Executive Administrative Assistant

Provides support for the activities of MDA's Research department, including the National Scientific Conference and National Clinical Conference.

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