In today’s economic climate, federal funding is more difficult to receive than ever, particularly for those scientists who are just beginning their careers. With even established investigators having difficulty obtaining funding, the chances of young researchers receiving substantial grants are even less likely. For today’s scientists, there’s only a 10-percent chance that their first grants – essential to establishing labs and launching studies – will be funded by the National Institutes of Health, the primary federal agency for supporting medical research.
Because today’s young scientists have such a tough time receiving funding, the Young Supporters Board of the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center donates the proceeds from all the board’s events to establishing Young Investigator Grants. These grants are awarded to young scientists who have been at the Cancer Center for no more than five years in order to jumpstart their research.
Their investment is already paying off. The first recipient of one of these grants, David Schneider, Ph.D., received a $1.2-million grant from the National Cancer Institute after using the Young Investigator Grant as seed money for his research. Dr. Schneider’s research focuses on the mechanisms by which cells regulate the expression of ribosomes, the cellular machines responsible for making proteins. By controlling the way that cells make proteins, scientists have the potential to limit the proliferation of cells, which is the fundamental characteristic of cancer. “The money from the Young Supporters Board was essential in getting this research off the ground,” Dr. Schneider says. “Without it, I never would have received the NCI grant.”