This year marked the fourteenth year of activity for the Roche Organ Transplantation Research Foundation (ROTRF). Whilst in the early years the ROTRF funded mainly basic science, the last five years have seen our grant programme refocus, concentrating support entirely on clinical research in transplantation. The Trustees are very pleased with this shift in emphasis and believe that such change has helped in reshaping clinical research; raising awareness of the need to keep patients in mind when performing laboratory studies and to seek appropriate collaborations and support for a more complete approach to tackling the issues under investigation. Multidisciplinary approaches and the use of novel technologies, such as the high throughput platforms, have been successfully integrated into more traditional research approaches and are becoming an integral part of clinical research.

With this in mind, the Trustees selected nine remarkable projects to receive a grant award in Cycle XXVII. As in the past, the main criteria for the evaluation of the proposals were scientific merit and originality, with particular attention being paid to the relevance of the question addressed to organ transplantation, and the potential for clinical application of the results in the near term. The projects selected for a ROTRF grant award in Cycle XXVII focus on the identification of markers for spontaneous regeneration after acute liver failure, mechanisms of tolerance induction and acute rejection in kidney transplant patients, organ preservation to improve transplant outcome, non-invasive markers of rejection, assessment of donor-graft quality and outcome prediction, and factors affecting long-term graft survival.

In addition, the ROTRF awarded a grant to the newly established BANFF Foundation. This foundation arises from the highly respected Banff Allograft Pathology Classification and Consensus Process. The aim of the BANFF Foundation is to facilitate the establishment of an internationally accepted diagnostic consensus in organ and tissue allografts and to combine pathological analyses with biological assessments of biopsy specimens. Such a consensus would be used in clinical trials and hopefully improve graft outcome and patient care. The Trustees believe that the formalisation of the Banff Consensus Process may be beneficial to the transplantation research community and ultimately transplant patients.

Over the years, the projects supported by the ROTRF have generated interesting and important data in multiple research areas in organ transplantation. We look forward to updates on the progress of the projects funded in 2012.

In Spring 2013, the ROTRF will award grants for Cycle XXVIII, for which Letters of Intent were received until the deadline of 1 October 2012, and we are currently accepting applications for Cycle XXIX until the deadline on 1 October 2013. Once again, we welcome proposals for clinically oriented research projects, such as observational clinical studies or studies that use human transplant samples for laboratory examinations to investigate the pathogenesis of human disease states in organ transplantation. We are also looking forward to receiving applications for collaborative partnerships, for developing and evaluating novel techniques, or addressing under-studied areas of clinical transplantation research.

We wish to thank F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd for their generous financial support, which allowed the ROTRF to support research into organ transplantation for over 14 years. The overall success of the ROTRF would not have been possible without the excellent work and commitment of the Scientific Advisory Committee, ad hoc reviewers and the grantees, to whom the Foundation is deeply indebted.

We wish the newly granted investigators of Cycles XXVII and the BANFF Foundation every success in their endeavours!

On behalf of the Board of Trustees

Philip F. Halloran, MD, PhD, OC
Chairman, ROTRF Board of Trustees