NMDP Awards 25th Annual ‘Amy Scholars’ Grant, Furthering Post-Transplant Research

NMDP Awards 25th Annual ‘Amy Scholars’ Grant, Furthering Post-Transplant Research

Bruce Manasevit (L) joins NMDP’s Dr. Jeffery Auletta (R) to award Nicoletta Cieri, MD, PhD the Amy Scholar research grant

(Minneapolis, MN) —  March 06, 2024 — NMDP℠ announced two recipients of its Amy Strelzer Manasevit Research Program grant, one of the largest and most coveted grants in the transplant and cellular therapy field. The award is given to early-career researchers investigating preventions or treatments to life-threatening complications following all forms of cellular therapy and is funded through philanthropic gifts to NMDP.

In January, NMDP unveiled its new unified name and brand, which aligns with the organization’s ongoing vision to inspire action and accelerate innovation in finding life-saving cures. This grant exemplifies NMDP’s commitment to support new research that advances the future of post-transplant care and improves outcomes for patients diagnosed with life-threatening blood cancers or blood diseases.

This year’s grant recipients, called Amy Scholars, are Nicoletta Cieri, MD, PhD, and Faruk Sacirbegovic, PhD. Dr. Cieri is a postdoctoral fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. The grant will help her evaluate a large dataset of patients who have undergone allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT) – a potentially life-saving option for many blood disorders but one that is often complicated by graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Dr. Cieri’s research will assess allo-HCT across different donor types and transplant modalities to improve personalized risk assessment for GvHD and enable individualized tailoring of post-transplant immunosuppression.

Dr. Sacirbegovic is an assistant professor of surgery at the Starzl Transplantation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. His research is focused on understanding the complex biological processes that dictate T cell immune responses with the goal of developing novel cell-based therapies to treat disease. The grant will help Dr. Sacirbegovic develop therapeutic approaches that will more specifically target GvHD while preserving the therapeutic effects of allo-HCT and anti-pathogen immunity.

“We are honored to support Drs. Cieri and Sacirbegovic in their research efforts to improve the lives of those battling blood cancers and blood disorders. We are especially grateful to the Moore family, who generously funded the Amy Scholars Research Program in 2024,” said Joy King, Chief Advancement Officer, NMDP, and Executive Director, NMDP. “We are confident that the work of these two distinguished researchers will impact many lives, and we are proud to support their work.”

Each recipient will receive $400,000 each across 5-years to assist their research. Since 1998, NMDP has invested more than $12 million, funding 51 early-career investigators and helping them develop research portfolios and establish their laboratories. Amy Scholar Award recipients have gone on to be leaders in the HCT field, securing over $250M in aggregate federal funding.

NMDP also announced the first-ever recipient of its Barbara Buchbinder Nurse Research Program grant, which supports focused research conducted by bone marrow transplant nurses to improve the transplant experience and outcomes for pediatric patients. The grant also was established through a philanthropic gift from the Buchbinder family in partnership with NMDP.

NMDP named Brenna McGinn, a pediatric nurse practitioner at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, as the inaugural recipient. Ms. McGinn is currently working in the hospital’s Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy department, and her research focuses on investigating mental health evaluation and treatment feasibility of pediatric hematopoietic transplant patients.

“Both of these grant programs align with NMDP’s mission to advance research in cellular therapy,” said Jeffery Auletta, MD, Senior Vice President, Health Equity, NMDP and Chief Scientific Director, CIBMTR® (Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research®). “For years, we have supported groundbreaking research by collaborating with an extensive network of physicians and scientists in impacting outcomes. Through such research, we look forward to a future where every patient with blood cancer or a blood disorder can receive life-saving cell therapy and thrive post-transplant.”

About NMDP℠

At NMDP℠, we believe each of us holds the key to curing blood cancers and disorders. As a global nonprofit leader in cell therapy, NMDP creates essential connections between researchers and supporters to inspire action and accelerate innovation to find life-saving cures. With the help of blood stem cell donors from the world’s most diverse registry and our extensive network of transplant partners, physicians and caregivers, we’re expanding access to treatment so that every patient can receive their life-saving cell therapy. NMDP. Find cures. Save lives.


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