On behalf of the Board of Trustees of the Roche Organ Transplantation Research Foundation (ROTRF), I am pleased to announce that the ROTRF grant awards for Cycles XXI and XXII have been awarded to 14 clinical and 4 conventional research projects*, including 9 clinical projects that were awarded in Cycle XXI as part of the special competition promoting clinical research in organ transplantation. In total, 3.95 million Swiss francs were awarded in these two application cycles.

In this past year, the Board of Trustees and the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the ROTRF took on the difficult task of selecting 18 projects that were to be funded from an impressive number of highly original and interesting applications. The results from many funded projects have already been presented at national and international congresses, published in peer-reviewed journals and on the ROTRF homepage. The Trustees are looking forward to even more new and exciting data from the newly funded projects.

In 2007, the ROTRF announced a 5-Year Plan focusing on the understanding of the pathogenesis and prevention of human transplantation diseases. Two years into the Plan, the emphasis continues to be on supporting research involving transplant patients and material, addressing clinical issues relevant to organ transplantation in non-transplant patients, and on the development and clinical implementation of new technologies to examine the pathogenesis of disease states in transplant patients. In line with the 5-Year Plan, in 2008, the Board of Trustees marked the 10th Anniversary of the ROTRF with a special grant award competition promoting clinical research in organ transplantation. The response to this special competition was overwhelming, with many innovative applications received by the October 2008 deadline. The grants were awarded in March 2009 and are presented in the grant award overview of Cycle XXI.

Based on the success of the special competition and of its clinical grant award programme in the past, the ROTRF has now decided to concentrate its efforts on exclusively supporting clinical research. This new focus aims to promote research specifically addressing problems in human transplantation and having a realistic potential for clinical application in the near term. The Trustees hope to promote collaborative work between clinicians and research investigators and to support areas of clinical transplantation research that are currently under-studied, and that may open new research frontiers.

Starting with Cycle XXIII, the Trustees encourage investigators to submit proposals for clinically oriented research projects, such as observational clinical studies or studies that use human transplant samples for laboratory examinations. Investigators working in areas such as antibody-mediated rejection and antibody formation, graft pathology during rejection events, histocompatibility, infectious agents, and disease phenotypes in transplant patients are encouraged to apply. The Trustees will also consider funding studies that investigate transplant populations, ethics, organ preservation and allocation, and healthcare delivery. Furthermore, the ROTRF will welcome research in new emerging technologies that examine the pathogenesis of human disease states in organ transplantation. The first Letters of Intent under this new focus were received by the 1 October 2009 deadline for Cycle XXIII, and have been of outstanding breadth and quality. The Trustees are anticipating a number of exciting and competitive grant applications in Cycle XXIII.

In 2009, the ROTRF sponsored a satellite symposium at the American Transplant Congress in Boston entitled “The Systems Biology of Clinical Organ Transplantation”. This symposium highlighted new technologies and approaches to the analysis of patient material that can be used alongside the more traditional approaches to ensure a better understanding of the disease state of transplant patients. This informative symposium was chaired by the ROTRF Trustees, Prof. J. Andrew Bradley and Prof. Allan D. Kirk and included presentations on analysis, storage and interpretation of complex data related to the disease states in organ transplantation, emerging technologies and bioinformatic approaches for identifying key regulatory molecules. Novel technologies for quantifying human B cell responses in highly sensitized patients were also discussed and preliminary results of the Long-term Deterioration of Kidney Allograft Function (DeKAF) study that examined the prognostic value of cluster analysis based on BANFF score were presented. The symposium was very well attended and received. The ROTRF is looking forward to bringing important and exciting developments in transplantation to congresses in the future.

The ROTRF is grateful to F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd for their continued support of research in organ transplantation over the last 10 years. The Board of Trustees would like to thank the ROTRF Scientific Advisory Committee for their dedication to this cause, and the grantees for their excellent work and support, which have contributed to the overall success of the Foundation.

Finally, the ROTRF wishes the newly granted investigators of Cycles XXI and XXII good luck with their research.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees

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

* At the time of the last update of this homepage one grant award was still pending in cycle XXI due to administrative reasons and is not listed in the grant award overview.