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Professor Grant Stewart has received funding for research to advance the treatment of skeletal disorders in children

University of Birmingham Professor Grant Stewart has received £246,993 from Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and children’s medical research charity Sparks to fund research into the advancement of treatment of skeletal disorders.   

The award is part of a £2.1 million investment by the two charities to fund child health research projects across the UK.

The injection of funds into paediatric research will provide a huge boost to an area of research that is severely underfunded. Currently paediatric research receives only five per cent of public and charitable research funding in the UK each year. 

Professor Grant Stewart will study cells from children with skeletal disorders to understand how genetic differences between patients affect the symptoms and severity of their condition.

The research could help to uncover new ways of treating the conditions, as well as identifying children also at greater risk of developing cancer due to genetics.   

Professor Stewart, of the Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have received funding from GOSH Charity and Sparks which will enable me to further my research into understanding how genetic defects in DNA repair genes cause disease in children.

“It is fantastic to know that the GOSH Charity and Sparks are making such a large amount of money available for child health researchers across the UK to bid for each year.” 

The commitment to paediatric research funding reflects GOSH Charity and Sparks’ ambitions to help unlock breakthroughs in children’s medicines that will find treatments and cures for seriously ill children with rare and complex conditions.  

This year, for the first time the national call also involves partnering with rare disease charities Krabbe UK and Dravet Syndrome UK, thereby increasing the funding available.

Dravet Syndrome UK has jointly funded a research project aiming to unlock the potential of gene therapy to treat Dravet Syndrome, while Krabbe UK has provided funding to a project to explore the potential of a new stem cell treatment for Krabbe disease. This demonstrates the commitment from GOSH Charity and Sparks to boost funding into research into the most complex of conditions and highlights the importance of collaboration to fund the highest quality research.   

Kiki Syrad, Director of Grants and Impact at Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity says: “We were delighted to receive a large number of high-quality applications from the UK pediatric research community on a range of diseases. For many children, research is their only hope. We look forward to seeing how Professor Stewart’s project progresses, and the call re-opening later in 2019.”  

The projects supported also reflect the ambition of both GOSH Charity and Sparks to drive new tests and therapies from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside, speeding up the diagnosis and treatment of rare and complex conditions.