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MDA Venture Philanthropy (MVP) Program

This program is meant to target investments with companies supporting therapeutic (drug or device) development for neuromuscular disease to invest in promising early-stage neuromuscular research, serving to de-risk development and to help attract larger venture capital investments.

To be eligible for the MVP program, individual applicants must:

  • Hold a Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Science, or equivalent degree, and,
  • Be in a leadership role at a company developing therapies for neuromuscular disease that align with MDA’s mission and covered diseases, and,
  • Submit an Employer Identification Number provided by the US Internal Revenue Service (or international equivalent) and a named Chief Executive Officer.

MVP Review and Deal Negotiation Process

The MVP review and deal negotiation process is characterized by an emphasis on a strategy resulting in a commercially viable drug or device therapy and a return on investment.

Following the submission of a non-confidential Letter of Intent including basic company and research project information, applicants will be notified if approved to move forward into the next phase of review.

The next phase of the review process includes an evaluation of a non-confidential slide deck that describes the company research pipeline/platform, potential therapeutic impact, technical feasibility, management team, Board of Directors, and affiliated scientific advisors. Applicants are reviewed based on the likelihood that their proposed strategy would result in commercially viable therapy and a return on investment to decide which applicants should move forward into the diligence review process.

For applicants moving forward into the next phase of the review process, a confidential diligence review of the scientific and commercial structure of the company is required to enable MDA to make informed investment decisions. This review is an expert assessment of the preclinical/ clinical, manufacturing, regulatory, and patient advocacy plans with the commercial strategy for therapies (drug or device) as well as a review of the organizational budget, management team, and intellectual property of the company.

Applicants moving forward after the diligence review process, will move into a deal negotiation with MDA. Investments can take the form of an equity stake, convertible notes or royalty sharing agreements, but the investment terms will not inhibit future investment in the company, and the return on investment will be proportional to the percentage of the project supported by MDA.

Royalty sharing agreements will have payments linked to milestones governed by an external steering committee consisting of scientific experts agreed upon by the company and by MDA, who will evaluate data and milestones as the project progresses. For equity investments annual or biannual updates are required.

MDA will also negotiate march-in rights such that if the company ceases development of the therapy for the indication supported by MDA for reasons other than scientific failure, such as a change in strategic direction, MDA shall have access to the necessary intellectual property and results from MVP-sponsored studies such that development of the therapy can be continued through other avenues. MDA also requires that will be credited for its support in all external reports of data.

MVP Review Committee
MDA has access to a highly qualified set of experts to make recommendations about the selection of projects to invest in. MDA’s MVP review committee consists of experts in neuromuscular disease research, neuromuscular medicine, biotechnology, venture capital investment and therapeutic development. MDA’s staff scientists work with these experts to select projects with the best possible chance of a commercially viable therapy (drug or device) and a return on investment.

How to Apply:

MDA will be accepting MVP Letters of Intent from October 3, 2022 – October 31,2022.

Please complete an MVP Letter of Intent by the submittal deadline to be considered for review.

Apply Here (October 3 - October 31)

For questions about the MDA Venture Philanthropy (MVP) Program, please reach out to Bryan Criswell at bcriswell@mdausa.org.

Requests for Applications

*This is a new program

Transgene-triggered safety concerns in DMD gene therapies

Background and Review Criteria

RFA Open: June 10, 2022
Letter of Intent Due: July 11, 2022
Invitations for full applications: July 18, 2022
Application due: August 29, 2022
Start Date: November 1, 2022

Funding:

  • The successful applicant will be receive the Christopher Duncan Horn Memorial award for a total of $200,000 ($100,000 per year over a two-year period) to conduct the proposed study.

Request for Applications (RFA): The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) will fund a two-year grant to enhance understanding and formulate mitigation strategies for transgene-triggered adverse events. Examples of research that might be supported by this RFA include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Identification of ‘at risk’ patient genotypes for transgene-triggered responses as it relates to DMD mutation types
  • Further investigation into the nature of immunoreactive epitopes in the dystrophin gene
  • Re-design of dystrophin transgene therapies to minimize transgene-triggered responses
  • Development of immunosuppression strategies to minimize transgene-triggered responses
  • In vitro assays and/or models predictive of transgene-triggered immune responses

Who can apply?

To be eligible to apply for an MDA research grant, an applicant must:

  • Hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) or equivalent degree (i.e. D.O.);
  • Be a professional or faculty member at an appropriate educational, medical or research institution;
  • Be qualified to conduct and mentor a program of original research within his or her own laboratory;
  • Have an acceptable research plan for a specific disease in MDA's portfolio;
  • Assume both administrative and financial responsibility for the grant; and
  • Have access to institutional resources necessary to conduct the proposed research project.
  • By the application deadline, applicants must be in compliance with MDA’s Good Standing policy and be up to date on any delinquent or incomplete grant deliverable from previously awarded grants. See MDA Research Department Grant Policy Manual for details.

NOTE: To apply for a Research Grant, you must be an independent investigator, i.e., not a trainee, not a post-doctoral fellow, not a research assistant and not under the supervision of another person (Principal Investigator/Independent Investigator) who is directing the research. Foreign investigators are also eligible to apply.

For questions regarding this funding opportunity, please contact Elizabeth Habeeb-Louks at ehabeeblouks@mdausa.org.

Funding Opportunities

  • MDA Kickstart Program

  • MDA Idea Awards

    The MDA Idea Award Program seeks bold, innovative research ideas that can have an impact in the field of neuromuscular disease. The idea should be supported by a strong scientific premise and include a feasible experimental plan. Applications will be accepted for no more than $50,000 for one year.

    Who can apply?

    To be eligible to apply for the MDA Idea Award, an applicant must:

    • Hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) or equivalent degree (i.e. D.O.);
    • Be a professional or faculty member (Professor, Associate Professor or Assistant Professor) at an appropriate educational, medical or research institution;
    • Be qualified to conduct a program of original research within their own laboratory;
    • Have an acceptable research plan for a specific disease in MDA's portfolio;
    • Assume both administrative and financial responsibility for the grant; and
    • Have access to institutional resources necessary to conduct the proposed research project.
    • By the application deadline, applicants must be in compliance with MDA’s Good Standing policy and be up to date on any delinquent or incomplete grant deliverable from previously awarded grants. See MDA Research Department Grant Policy Manual for details.
  • MDA Development Grants (DG)

    The purpose of the Development Grants program is to expand the number of scientists conducting meritorious neuromuscular disease research funding postdoctoral investigators in the laboratory of a senior investigator under whose guidance the researcher will be given flexibility to work independently or as part of a collaborative effort. Applications will be accepted for no more than $70,000 per year for 3 years.

    Who can apply?

    To be eligible for a Development Grant, an applicant must:

    • Hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Science
    • (D.Sc.) or equivalent degree (i.e., D.O.),
    • Be a member of a research team at an appropriate institution,
    • Be qualified to conduct a program of original research under the supervision of an independent investigator (mentor),
    • Have an acceptable research plan for a specific disease in MDA's portfolio,
    • Have access to institutional resources necessary to conduct the proposed research project,
    • Have a minimum of eighteen (18) months of post-degree research laboratory training at the time of application,
    • Be no more than 84 months (7 years) from receiving a Ph.D. or D.Sc.; or no more than 120 months (9 years) from receiving an M.D., D.O. or M.D., Ph.D. by the application deadline,
    • Not have been funded under the Development Grant program in the past,
    • By the application deadline, applicants must be in compliance with MDA’s Good Standing policy and be up to date on any delinquent or incomplete grant deliverable from previously awarded grants. See MDA Research Department Grant Policy Manual for details.
  • MDA Research Grants (RG)

    MDA Research Grants are awarded to independent, established investigators to accelerate progress toward understanding and treating neuromuscular disease. Applications will be accepted for no more than $100,000 per year for 3 years.

    Who can apply?

    To be eligible to apply for an MDA research grant, an applicant must:

    • Hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) or equivalent degree (i.e. D.O.);
    • Be a professional or faculty member (Professor, Associate Professor or Assistant Professor) at an appropriate educational, medical or research institution;
    • Be qualified to conduct and mentor a program of original research within his or her own laboratory;
    • Have an acceptable research plan for a specific disease in MDA's portfolio;
    • Assume both administrative and financial responsibility for the grant; and
    • Have access to institutional resources necessary to conduct the proposed research project.
    • By the application deadline, applicants must be in compliance with MDA’s Good Standing policy and be up to date on any delinquent or incomplete grant deliverable from previously awarded grants. See MDA Research Department Grant Policy Manual for details.

    NOTE: To apply for a Research Grant, you must be an independent investigator, i.e., not a trainee, not a post-doctoral fellow, not a research assistant and not under the supervision of another person (Principal Investigator/Independent Investigator) who is directing the research.

  • MDA Research Infrastructure Grants (RIG)

    Infrastructure Grants are designed to support the development of tools, techniques, and services of need to the neuromuscular research community. The main review criterion for this grant is need for the infrastructure to further research for the purpose of therapy development. Recipients of an MDA Infrastructure Grant must develop a plan to make this MDA-funded resource available to the research community and have a plan for sustaining the infrastructure beyond the period of MDA support. Letters of support from the community are an essential part of the application.

    Who can apply?

    To be eligible for an Infrastructure Grant, applicants must:

    • Hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D), Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) or equivalent degree (i.e. D.O.);
    • Be a professional or faculty member (professor, associate professor or assistant professor) at an appropriate educational, medical, corporate or research institution;
    • Be qualified to conduct research within his or her own laboratory;
    • Have an acceptable research plan for a specific disease in MDA's portfolio;
    • Assume both administrative and financial responsibility for the grant;
    • Have access to institutional resources necessary to conduct the proposed project;
    • By the application deadline, applicants must be in compliance with MDA’s Good Standing policy and be up to date on any delinquent or incomplete grant deliverable from previously awarded grants. See MDA Research Department Grant Policy Manual for details.
  • MDA Clinical Research Grants (CRG)

    Clinical Research Grants are milestone-driven projects that aid of development of therapeutic interventions for neuromuscular diseases.

    Who can apply?

    To be eligible to apply for a Clinical Research Grant, an applicant must:

    • Hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) or equivalent degree (i.e. D.O.);
    • Be qualified to conduct and mentor a program of original clinical research as an independent investigator (not a trainee, post-doctoral fellow, research assistant, research associate and not under the supervision of another person who is directing the research);
    • Assume both administrative and financial responsibility for the grant;
    • Have an acceptable research plan for a specific disease in MDA's portfolio;
    • Have access to institutional resources necessary to conduct the proposed research project;
    • By the application deadline, applicants must be in compliance with MDA’s Good Standing policy and be up to date on any delinquent or incomplete grant deliverable from previously awarded grants. See MDA Research Department Grant Policy Manual for details.
  • MDA Clinical Research Network Grants (CRNG)

    Clinical Research Network Grants are meant to form a network to promote and accelerate clinical research helping support the infrastructure necessary to conduct this research efficiently through the collaborative activities of the network.

    Who can apply?

    To be eligible to apply for a Clinical Research Network Grant, an applicant must:

    • Hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or equivalent degree (i.e. D.O.),
    • Be a permanent member of an MDA Care Center team. If the PI is not a named MDA Care Center director, a letter of support from the Care Center’s director(s) is required,
    • Be qualified to conduct clinical research within his or her institution,
    • See or have access to a minimum of 100 individuals with a disease covered in MDA’s portfolio (https://www.mda.org/disease/list) each year,
    • Be experienced in clinical research for a disease covered in MDA’s program,
    • Have or employ adequate personnel to allow active participation in network activities,
    • Assume both administrative and financial responsibility for the grant,
    • Have the ability to obtain funding for research projects conducted through the network,
    • By the application deadline, applicant must be in compliance with MDAs Good Standing policy and be up to date on any delinquent or incomplete grant deliverable from previously awarded grants. See MDA Research Department Grant Policy Manual for details.
  • MDA Conference Grants (CG)

    MDA supports meetings and conferences focused on the muscular dystrophies and related diseases of the neuromuscular system. These are the muscular dystrophies (including Duchenne and Becker); motor neuron diseases (including ALS and SMA); the peripheral nerve disorders (CMT and Friedreich's ataxia); inflammatory myopathies; disorders of the neuromuscular junction; metabolic diseases of muscle as well as other myopathies. Conference grants are awarded to encourage scientific meetings for researchers and/or clinicians to exchange ideas and to establish collaborations. Meetings focused on therapy development will be considered a priority.

    • Applications are accepted and reviewed on a continual rolling basis. The application period Conference Grants for 2022 has closed and will re-open in December, 2022.

    Contact our Grants Management team for further information about the program and how to apply and/or to request being added to our funding opportunities mailing list: grants@mdausa.org

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