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VU investigators land ‘bridge grants’ from hematology society

Aug. 22, 2013, 8:41 AM

Utpal Davé, M.D., and Sandra Zinkel, M.D., Ph.D., have each received one-year, $100,000 “bridge grants” from the American Society of Hematology (ASH) to support research that has not been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) due to budget cuts.

ASH established the unique $9 million grant program last year to fill the gap caused by sequestration — an across-the-board government cutback passed by Congress — that has led to historically low rates in the awarding of NIH grants.

“Hematologists will require support from outside of NIH to continue moving biomedical innovation forward,” ASH President Janis Abkowitz, M.D. said in a news release. “ASH was proud to provide that needed support in the form of bridge grants to nearly 30 projects in our first year.”

Davé, assistant professor of Medicine and Cancer Biology, was recognized for his discoveries of genes and pathways that drive or initiate T-cell leukemias and lymphomas, rare but particularly lethal blood cancers.

“The incredible contraction in NIH grant funding means that meritorious science is not being funded,” Davé said. “ASH identified this crisis and put resources into this grant program, allowing critical research to move forward. I am very grateful that our work was recognized.”

Zinkel, assistant professor of Medicine, Cancer Biology and of Cell & Developmental Biology, was honored for her contributions to understanding mechanisms that regulate hematopoietic stem cell function and homeostasis to protect against DNA damage and tumor formation.

Her work has provided important insights into gene pathways and mechanisms that may be targeted in the treatment of bone marrow failure disorders.

“ASH has recognized that the current grant funding climate has severely impacted research in hematology, and has put resources into this grant program to allow critical research to continue,” Zinkel said. “I am honored that our work was chosen as deserving of support from this national organization.”

To learn more about the program, go to and click on Bridge Grants.

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