IETF Reviews, Refines Research Grant Process

September 2021 – Recent gifts from generous donors have provided the International Essential Tremor Foundation with the opportunity to revamp its 20-year-old research grant program for a more meaningful and long-term impact.

When the grant program was established in 2001, it entailed awarded up to two $25,000 grants per year to studies addressing the nosology, etiology, pathogenesis or treatment of ET. In 2020, the IETF Board of Directors approved increasing the grant amounts to $50,000 to stimulate more interest in ET research.

Once the IETF received news of the additional research funding in the winter of 2021, a research grant review committee was formed to evaluate the current process and brainstorm on ways to enhance it. Members of the committee included representatives from the IETF board of directors as well the medical advisory board to ensure representation of both patient interests as well as ET researchers. 

As a result of research grant review committee discussions, a new process was brought before the IETF Board of Directors and approved earlier this year.  Instead of accepting open applications for research grants, the IETF is now following a Request for Applications (RFA) process. RFAs are typically one-time solicitations for grant applications addressing a defined research topic. Defining the research topic area sets the focus of studies on areas where more data is needed. The IETF’s defined areas are studies achieving one or more of the following goals:

1. A better understanding of the underlying pathophysiology of ET, including independent validation of previous findings.
2. A better understanding of the etiology of ET
3. Development or further validation of animal models of ET
4. Other approaches furthering the understanding of ET, which in turn would lead to, enhanced treatment options for patients

Researchers and clinicians with studies meeting one or more of these goals must submit a letter of intent outlining specific aims of their study, timeline, and more. A grant review committee will then review all letters of intent and invite those with promise to submit a full proposal. Promising studies have the potential to receive up to three years of funding with a potential initial grant amount of $150,000 for the first year. The IETF has set up an investment account to grow the funds allocated for research so grants can be provided for many years to come.

“With this new process, we can direct the focus of our research grants around areas that will yield some solid scientific results to help us better understand essential tremor,” said Dr. Holly Shill, chair of the IETF Medical Advisory Board. “Our hope is that because of this additional funding, we will see more collaborative projects really getting to the cause of ET, which will eventually lead to a cure.”

A deadline of November 30, 2021 has been set for all letters of intent. Invitations will be sent to promising applications in January 2022 asking for full proposals. The grant recipient(s) will be announced in June 2022. Learn more on the IETF website, at www.essentialtremor.org/what-we-do/research/.

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