John Merck Fund Announces Grants to Support Translational Research Into Developmental Disabilities

The Boston-based John Merck Fund has announced three $1 million grants in support of translational research on developmental disabilities.

Awarded through a new multiyear research program, the grants will support scientists working to develop treatments and improve outcomes for individuals with developmental disabilities, particularly Down and Fragile X syndromes. The program is expected to make approximately ten grants of $1 million each over its duration.

The grant recipients are Craig A. Erickson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center; David R. Hessl, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at U.C. Davis MIND Institute; and Jeanne B. Lawrence, interim chair and professor of cell and developmental biology and pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

In 2011, the fund announced that it would spend down its assets and award its last grants in 2021. The fund estimates that its total grantmaking over the decade could approach $100 million.

"What's especially exciting about [the Translational Research] program," said Marsha Mailick, chair of the fund's scientific advisory board, "is that it supports research with potential game-changing impact that is within the realm of probability — not just possibility — and could be achieved within ten years."

"The John Merck Fund Announces Initial Grants in Multiyear Program to Support Translational Research Into Developmental Disabilities" John Merck Fund Press Release 02/13/2013.