BUFFALO, N.Y. – Federal funding is still the gold standard
for biomedical research but during the past decade and especially
as a result of sequestration, many young investigators are
conducting research that is supported largely by private, not
Matthew Barth, MD, research assistant professor of pediatrics in
the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical
Sciences, has more than $800,000 in funding, all from private
sources. Last summer, he was awarded a $330,000 grant from the St.
Baldrick’s Foundation, a volunteer-driven charity committed
to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood
The research the foundation funded will support Barth’s
work studying what makes a subset of children with pediatric
lymphoma resistant to the most effective cures. Pediatric lymphoma
is the third most common pediatric cancer.
In addition to the St. Baldrick’s grant, he is or has been
funded by Hyundai Hope on Wheels, a charity run by the automobile
maker Hyundai, the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation and UB’s
Henry C. and Bertha H. Buswell Research Fellowship for MDs who want
to pursue research as a career.
Barth expects to apply soon for his first National Institutes of
“Knowing how competitive those applications are at this
time and how small a percentage are being funded, I wanted to make
sure I had a really solid application,” he says. “So I
sought out private foundations that dedicate grants for career
development or young investigators who focus on pediatric oncology.
I’ve really utilized those to support myself in these early
More young investigators are taking this approach and their
institutions are providing assistance.
“Every university looks to diversify its research
portfolio especially since there is such a strain on federally
funded research because of sequestration and other fiscal
challenges,” says Elizabeth Smith, UB assistant vice
president for administration and planning in the Office of the Vice
President for Research and Economic Development.
“It’s prudent portfolio management,” she says.
“These private funds are particularly useful in establishing
a principal investigator’s early career.”
Barth, a UB faculty member, is a practicing
hematologist/oncologist who conducts research at Roswell Park
Cancer Institute. He notes that both RPCI and UB help young
investigators by keeping them updated on funding opportunities.
Barth also collaborates with investigators at other institutions
who share information on funding opportunities.
“We are a small group of investigators who have formed a
consortium focused on investigating novel, targeted ways to treat
B-cell lymphoma,” he says.