RTW Foundation Announces Six Research Grant Recipients

RTW Foundation Announces Six Research Grant Recipients


RTW Foundation announced today that it has awarded $900,000 in research grants to support six research studies. These studies aim to drive transformational progress in genetic therapies and align with RTW Foundation’s mission to power community initiatives and scientific research to improve the health of underserved communities.

Grant Recipients

The following studies and researchers each received $150,000 research grants from RTWCF:

  • “Establishing gene replacement therapy for NEDAMSS, an ultra-rare neurological disorder caused by mutations in the IRF2BPL gene” (Kathrin Meyer, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH).
  • “Optimizing AAV-SPL gene therapy for sphingosine phosphate lyase insufficiency syndrome” (Julie Saba, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA).
  • “Gene therapy for SURF1-related Leigh Syndrome” (Steven Gray, The University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, TX).
  • “Safety and toxicity assessment of AAV-based gene therapy for creatine transporter deficiency” (Jagdeep Walia, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada).
  • “Advanced therapeutics for SELENON-related myopathy” (Alan Beggs, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA).
  • “Preclinical studies of ASO therapy for SPTLC1-related hereditary sensory neuropathy” (Haiyan Zhou, University College London, London, UK).

“Despite considerable advancements in gene and cell therapies that deliver more targeted and effective treatments for rare diseases, a significant amount of additional research is still required to move these advances out of the lab and safely to patients,” said Juan Carlos López, PhD, Managing Director, Research Grants, RTW Foundation. “RTW Foundation is proud to provide financial and scientific support to these six incredible researchers and their respective studies. We believe that each of these studies will help expedite the development of gene therapies for rare and ultrarare diseases, and greatly improve the lives of individuals with unmet medical needs.”

Grant Recipient Commentary

Julie Saba, MD, PhD, commented:

  • “I am honored and grateful to receive this award from RTW Foundation, which will support studies to optimize gene therapy for sphingosine phosphate lyase insufficiency syndrome. This newly recognized inborn error of metabolism leads to kidney failure in most of the affected children, causing more than half of them to die in their first years of life. While kidney transplantation can be lifesaving, it is invasive, costly, unavailable to many, and does not address the many other serious consequences of the disorder. Gene therapy offers a potentially lifesaving alternative treatment. The studies undertaken with RTW Foundation funding should improve our gene therapy potency, allowing us to advance to toxicology studies and clinical trials. I appreciate RTW Foundation’s dedication to advancing research in ultrarare diseases, which are overwhelmingly underfunded. Every child deserves personalized therapy!”

Alan Beggs, PhD, commented:

  • “Our group has studied a neuromuscular condition called Multiminicore Disease or Rigid Spine Muscular Dystrophy for many years to understand how mutations of a gene called SELENON lead to weakness. We are now on the cusp of translating our laboratory experiments into a treatment that can be tested in patients. I’m thrilled that support from the RTW Foundation is helping us to work towards developing a next-generation gene therapy candidate designed for eventual testing in a clinical trial.”

Haiyan Zhou, MD, PhD, commented:

  • “We are extremely grateful for the generous award from RTW Foundation. This grant serves as a vital catalyst in advancing our groundbreaking work on a novel nucleic acid therapy designed for an ultrarare neurodegenerative condition, currently devoid of effective treatment options. The crucial support from RTW Foundation will propel the preclinical development and hasten the clinical translation of this experimental therapy. Moreover, this award will play a pivotal role in elevating the impact of our translational genetic therapy program at the Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and NIHR GOSH Biomedical Research Centre. It also contributes to the growth of the UK platform for nucleic acid therapy in rare diseases.”

To date, RTW Foundation has awarded over 20 research grants, totaling over $3 million in funding. In addition to delivering financial resources, RTW Foundation also provides grant recipients with hands-on scientific support, helping them improve or further develop their research and research tools and identify new therapeutic targets.

About RTW Foundation
Founded in 2018 as the charitable foundation arm of RTW Investments, LP, RTW Foundation works to power community initiatives and scientific research to improve the health of underserved communities. The Foundation is able to provide capital, manpower, and logistical support to help scientists push such projects forward. In addition, the Foundation aims to assist in advocacy, disease awareness and directly support organizations and communities in New York City. To learn more, visit www.rtwcf.org.