Making donated dollars go further
Expressions of Interest for the 2024 round are now open - and will close on Monday 4 March 2024.
The National Stem Cell Foundation of Australia (NSCFA) is a prominent supporter of stem cell science in Australia, well known for its annual award to promising mid-career researchers - the Metcalf Prizes - and ongoing support of students and early-career researchers by providing travel grants to participate in various conferences, such as the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research annual meeting.
The Foundation will provide up to four AUD$100,000 research grants per year as part of its Matched Funding Program.
Under the Program, the Foundation will match donations it receives from an approved donor (or donors) up to a maximum of $50,000 with up to $50,000 dollars of its own funds, to potentially provide a total of $100,000 for a successful research project.
Ideally, the lead researcher (or their host institution) would find and introduce the donor to the Foundation, however if this does not occur the Foundation will try to assist by using its resources to source an appropriate donor (through its newsletters, website and social media).
The main criteria when evaluating proposals are:
- How well does this proposal address the clinical need?
- How innovative is the approach?
- Is preclinical data available and what is the quality of the proposed research?
- Does the project team have the capacity and suitability to deliver all aspects of the project?
- Does the project have a positive approach to team development and mentoring?
To be eligible the research project must be:
- Utilising stem cell technology
- Performed predominantly in Australia
- Preclinical studies that would inform a clinical trial OR ready to conduct a clinical trial.
Past successful applicants are permitted and invited to submit further application(s) in subsequent years, which will be judged on the merits of each individual application alongside and in competition with other applications received in that year.
The application will also provide details of the purpose for which the funding will be used such as equipment, PhD Student stipends, research assistants or a project manager (if working towards clinical trials).
Applications will also advise on the prospects of finding interested donors willing to provide support at this level.
We hope to support a diversity of projects in stem cell research. Applications from gender and culturally diverse backgrounds are encouraged.
Up to four more projects will be selected for the 2024 Program.
Expressions of Interest open
5 February 2024
Expressions of Interest close
4 March 2024
Supplementary questionnaire for shortlisted applications
Applicants notified of outcome
28 June 2024
Agreement executed, donor(s) found and funds paid
After 1 July 2024
Researchers interested in applying for a grant under the program should complete an Expression of Interest (see below) and forward it to Foundation as directed.
All EOIs will be reviewed by the Foundation's Science & Ethics Committee and independent expert reviewers who will initially establish a short list and then decide the eventual winners of the grants.
During the review process researchers under serious consideration will be required to provide more detailed information on their project.
The full review process will be completed in June 2024 and successful applicants will be notified.
Successful researchers will, through their host institution, execute a fairly basic Research Funding Agreement between the Foundation and the Researcher’s Host Institution confirming key elements of the relationship.
The Researcher (or Host Institution) will then have a set period to find an approved donor(s). At that stage, if a donor has not been found, the offer to provide the funding will lapse.
When an approved donor has been found, a donor agreement may be executed between the Foundation and the Donor, largely designed to confirm the obligations of the Foundation and rights of the donor.
After this is executed, the Donor can make their donation ($50,000) to the Foundation and within seven days the Foundation will pay $100,000 to the Researcher’s Host Institution.
The Researcher will then have twelve months from that payment date to fully acquit the funds and provide a final report to the Foundation.
Scientists we're supporting through previous rounds
2023 Matched Funding Program recipients:
- Dr Madison Paton from the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Institute in Sydney is developing a new treatment for neonatal stroke.
- Dr Lincon Stamp from the University of Melbourne is working on a stem cell-based treatment for oesophageal achalasia, a debilitating digestive disease.
- Donor arrangements are still being finalised for two further projects.
2022 Matched Funding Program recipients:
- Professor Geraldine Mitchell from the O’Brien Institute at St Vincent’s Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne is developing 3D blood vessel networks covered by skin, grown from stem cells, for tissue engineering and wound healing. This is the equivalent of a human tissue skin flap.
- Dr Atul Malhotra from Monash University is developing a treatment for brain injury in extremely preterm babies (those born before 28 weeks gestation) that uses a baby’s own umbilical cord blood cells therapeutically.
- Dr Katie Ayers from Murdoch Children's Research Institute will use testis-like organoids derived from stem cells to model Differences of Sex Development (DSD), which is important for early diagnosis.
- Professor Helen Abud from Monash University is using mini tumour “organoids” established from stem cells derived from BRAF-mutant bowel tumours, to generate a pre-clinical testing platform to enable selection of personalised drug treatments for patients.
2021 Matched Funding Program recipients:
- Dr Peter Houweling from Murdoch Children's Research Institute is developing a treatment for a type of muscular dystrophy, a group of genetic diseases that cause progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass.
- Dr Gerard Kaiko from Hunter Medical Research Institute and the University of Newcastle is working on personalised gene therapy for the treatment of cystic fibrosis, an inherited condition that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs.
- Dr Raymond Wong from the Centre for Eye Research Australia and The University of Melbourne is developing a gene therapy for late-stage retinitis pigmentosa (RP), an inherited retinal disease that causes progressive loss of vision.
- Dr Sarah Withey from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland is using mini liver 'organoids' made from stem cells to test a treatment for children with a rare, genetic, progressive, life-limiting disease Ataxia Telangiectasia (A-T).
2020 Matched Funding Program recipients:
- Dr Tom Edwards from the Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA) and The University of Melbourne is working on gene therapy for inherited retinal diseases.
- Professor John Bateman from Murdoch Children's Research Institute is researching genetic disorders of bone and cartilage.
- Professor Mark Shackleton is from the Cancer Development and Treatment Group Laboratory at the Alfred Hospital and Monash University. Mark seeks to develop new treatments for the skin pigment disorder vitiligo and for melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer.