JULY 30, 2010


UMMS Annual Research Fund receives $180,000 for grants 

WORCESTER, Mass.—The Melvin S. Cutler Charitable Foundation, a local philanthropic organization established by design-build entrepreneur Mel Cutler, has contributed $180,000 to the University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Annual Research Grant program to support young investigators and their independent research. The pledge will fund “seed grants” to be awarded to young scientists to establish research programs that will ultimately attract funding from sources such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“It is essential to have a robust pilot grant program to ‘prime the pump’ for our talented young investigators,” said John L. Sullivan, MD, Vice Provost for Research at UMMS, who noted that, currently, competition for NIH funding is fierce. “Mel Cutler’s gift will allow new investigators to generate the preliminary data that will lead to external peer-reviewed funding. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this type of grant for a new scientist—even the most brilliant and innovative ideas need start-up funding. This type of grant is critical.”

UMMS oversees an Annual Research Fund and, since 1999, has awarded more than $3 million to 136 researchers. In 2002, a gift from Cutler supported the work of Phillip D. Zamore, PhD, who was then an assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular pharmacology. The Cutler award allowed Dr. Zamore to hire lab staff to pursue an avenue of research related to the biochemical machinery behind RNA interference (RNAi), or gene silencing. RNAi was a relatively new field at the time and is now recognized as one of the most remarkable discoveries in contemporary science. Zamore, now a full professor, is a Howard Hughes Medical Investigator and the Gretchen Stone Cook Chair of Biomedical Sciences.

“It is very gratifying to make this gift to fund the important research that UMass Medical School conducts,” said Mr. Cutler. “My hope is that this critical work will result in discoveries that ultimately provide cures that reduce the suffering of future generations.”

Cutler, of Clearwater, Florida (previously of Worcester) is a former trustee of the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research at UMMS. In 1972 he established Cutler Associates, a full-service design-build construction firm in Worcester that has grown into a widely respected operation with employees in Worcester, Pennsylvania and Florida. Cutler also founded Cutler Capital Management LLC, an investment firm specializing in convertible securities and real estate investment trusts.

About the University of Massachusetts Medical School
The University of Massachusetts Medical School, one of the fastest growing academic health centers in the country, has built a reputation as a world-class research institution, consistently producing noteworthy advances in clinical and basic research. The Medical School attracts more than $240 million in research funding annually, 80 percent of which comes from federal funding sources. The mission of the Medical School is to advance the health and well-being of the people of the commonwealth and the world through pioneering education, research, public service and health care delivery with its clinical partner, UMass Memorial Health Care. For more information, visit www.umassmed.edu.

Contact: Alison Duffy 508-856-2000; alison.duffy@umassmed.edu