Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Center awarded $7.8 million grant

The Paul D. Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center at The University of Iowa has received a five-year, $7.8 million grant renewal from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to advance its work on finding treatments for muscular dystrophies.

The UI center, which was established in 2005, brings together researchers and clinicians to translate laboratory discoveries into clinical applications to treat a group of congenital and limb girdle muscular dystrophies caused by abnormalities in a protein called dystroglycan.

Led by center director Kevin Campbell, professor and head of molecular physiology and biophysics at the Carver College of Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, the researchers are exploring ways to restore normal functioning dystroglycan to muscle cells to treat this group of muscular dystrophies, which includes Fukuyama Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, Walker-Warburg Syndrome, Muscle-Eye-Brain disease, and limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2I.

“Our strength lies in our interdisciplinary nature. We have basic and clinical scientists working and training together to find ways to help patients and families affected by these muscular dystrophies,” says Campbell, who also is the Roy J. Carver Chair of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and a professor of internal medicine and neurology. “In addition, our collaboration with other Wellstone Centers around the country is helping to create an infrastructure that will support clinical trials to test new therapies and diagnostics for these currently incurable conditions.”

In addition to Campbell, the UI team is led by center codirector Steven Moore, UI professor of pathology, and Katherine Mathews, director of pediatric neurology with UI Children’s Hospital.