The IWMF and its affiliates support the advancement of knowledge about the pathophysiological basis for the disease Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia (WM). This goal is accomplished by providing research grants for basic biomedical research into the origins, clinical manifestations, treatments, and potential future cures for WM.
Since the IWMF is a small non-profit foundation with limited resources and is funded almost entirely by individual members’ donations, our research strategy focuses on the financial support of programs and institutions that contribute to basic scientific research. The Foundation does not fund clinical trials.
IWMF-LLS Strategic Research Roadmap
Because of recent exciting advances in our understanding of the biological basis of WM, the IWMF decided in 2014 to update its research strategy and enlist the cooperation of many of the major players in the WM research community. To this end, the IWMF partnered with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to sponsor a Strategic Research Roadmap Summit in New York City in May 2015. The conference agenda was divided into four major topics:
- Signaling – What pathways do WM cells use for communication?
- Immunology/immunotherapy – How can we better use our own immune system to fight WM?
- Tumor microenvironment – How does the bone marrow/tumor environment affect WM cells?
- “Omics” – What else can we learn about genomics, epigenomics, and mutations in WM cells?
To read more about the Summit and its participants click here. Dr. Stephen Ansell of the Mayo Clinic, scientific co-leader of the Roadmap Summit, discusses the four major topic areas on the Summit agenda in a short video entitled "An Exciting Time in Waldenstrom's!"
As a result of the Summit, the IWMF-LLS Strategic Research Roadmap Initiative was developed to implement a robust research program to support the four focus areas above. The Initiative is expected to fund 4-5 new research projects for 2 years, with the possibility of an extension for 1-2 additional years depending on the progress achieved, at a cost of roughly $200,000 per year per project for a total annual cost of roughly $1,000,000. This dynamic plan would initially seek to fund 2-4 research projects in year one (with the possibility of additional research projects in subsequent years depending on available funding). To achieve this plan, the IWMF identified the following steps:
- The development of a Request for Proposals (RFP), issued globally on November 11, 2015. The Request for Proposals can be viewed here.
- The deadline for receipt of year one proposals was February 19, 2016.
- Notification of awards was made in June 2016.
- Anticipated funding start date will be July-October 2016.
The first awards resulting from the Request for Proposals were made to the following recipients:
- Dr. Madhav Dhodapkar from Yale University: "Origins and immunotherapy of macroglobulinemia"
- Drs. Christian Buske, Jan Münch, and Daniel Sauter from Ulm University in Ulm, Germany: "Characterization of endogenous CXCR4 inhibitory peptides to target WM"
- Dr. Marcel Spaargaren from Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands: "Towards a rational targeted therapy for WM by kinome-centered loss-of-adhesion and synthetic lethality screens"
A second Strategic Research Roadmap Summit was held in May 2016. At that time, it was decided to hold yearly Summits in order to keep the participants updated on the progress made in each area of the Roadmap and to make revisions to the Roadmap as needed. It is also the intent of the IWMF and LLS to continue to issue a yearly Request for Proposals under the Roadmap Initiative.
The IWMF will also consider the merits of grant applications that fall outside the specific parameters of the Strategic Research Roadmap. The Foundation has a rigorous process in place for all research grant applications, which includes evaluation by appropriate WM expert scientists selected from the IWMF Scientific Advisory Committee; approval by the IWMF Research Committee; and, finally, approval by the IWMF Board of Trustees. Detailed information on the research grant application process can be found in Applying for a Grant.
Sponsorship of International Workshops on Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia
As part of its commitment to furthering the advance of research specific to WM, the IWMF has been instrumental in the development and support of the biennial global conferences known as the International Workshops on Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia, which provide biomedical professionals the opportunity to share their research findings and collaborate on methodologies. The Workshops are currently administered by the Bing Center for Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Several important Consensus Panel Guidelines on diagnosis, front-line and relapsed treatment therapies, response assessment, and other important topics have emerged from these Workshops, with the goal of assisting physicians in their clinical care of WM patients.
Young Investigator Awards
To promote innovative research, the International Workshops on WM sponsor an award program for young medical specialists, researchers, and postdoctoral fellows specializing in the area of WM. The Young Investigator Awards (YIAs) are intended to develop knowledge and skills in WM, thereby stimulating research applicable to the development of medical innovations that save and sustain patients’ lives. The IWMF and several of its affiliates contribute to the program by funding up-and-coming research investigators to attend the International Workshops on Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia.
Applicants for the YIA program are expected to submit descriptions of ongoing research through an abstract submission. The Award includes a travel, hotel, and conference stipend as well as an on-site presentation of the award-winning research (oral and poster).
At the last Workshop, IWWM8 in London in 2014, the following YIAs and their poster abstracts were recognized and sponsored by the IWMF and its affiliates, WMF Canada and WMUK:
- Julie Nielsen, PhD, Deeley Research Centre, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Canada - "MYD88 L265P: A target for T-cell based therapy of WM"
- Eric L. Smith, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA - "CD19 targeted chimeric antigen receptor modified T-cells for the treatment of WM"
- Jaimal Kothari, MD, Department of Haematology, University College Hospital, London, UK - "Initial experience and clinical utility of a high resolution melting assay to detect the MYD88 L265P in peripheral blood and bone marrow aspirates in patients with lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma and related disorders"
- Jonas Paludo, MD, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA - "Clinical features and survival outcomes of young patients with WM"
Other Medical Conferences
The IWMF has exhibited at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology since 2001 and attends scientific presentations and poster sessions offered during the event. The Foundation sponsors an annual meeting of the IWMF Scientific Advisory Committee during ASH.