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Dan and Diane Riccio Fund for Neuroscience awards four new grants

The Dan and Diane Riccio Fund for Neuroscience announced in June 2020 the awarding of four new $50,000 seed grants to UMass Chan Medical School researchers.

In 2017, Dan and Diane M. (Casey) Riccio, PhD'03, donated $2 million to support neuroscience research at UMass Chan Medical School, with $1 million to establish the Dan and Diane Riccio Fund for Neuroscience, and an additional $1 million to support the UMass ALS Cellucci Fund. These donations were in addition to $1 million given in 2013 to support ALS research at UMass Chan Medical School and ongoing support for graduate student travel fellowships administered through the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The Dan and Diane Riccio Fund for Neuroscience is intended to catalyze interdisciplinary collaborations, leading to innovative discoveries that deepen our understanding of brain function and the processes that go awry in neurological diseases.

“We are extremely grateful for support of neuroscience research by the Riccio Family,” said Vivian Budnik, PhD, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair and chair and professor of neurobiology. “This fund has been pivotal in fostering interdisciplinary collaborations among NeuroNexus Institute laboratories, which has served to expand our understanding of complex neuroscience problems, and ultimately reveal the mechanisms underlying disease conditions in the brain. The seed grants sponsored by the Riccio Fund are already leading to larger research projects to be submitted for federal support.” The Department of Neurobiology administers the fund.

Three of the funded projects were new, while one was a renewal of an application initially funded in 2019. The recipients and their projects are:

  • Katherine A. Fitzgerald, PhD, the Worcester Foundation for Biomedical Research Chair, professor of medicine, vice chair for research in the Department of Medicine and director of the Program in Innate Immunity, and Carolina Ionete, MD, PhD, professor of neurology
    Gasdermin D as a Biomarker and Therapeutic Target for Multiple Sclerosis
  • Paul L. Greer, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine, and Robert H. Brown, DPhil, MD, the Leo P. and Theresa M. LaChance Chair in Medical Research and professor of neurology
    Characterizing CNS Myeloid Cells in ALS Pathogenesis
  • Andrei Korostelev, PhD, associate professor of RNA therapeutics; Fen-Biao Gao, PhD, the Governor Paul Cellucci Chair in Neuroscience Research and professor of neurology; and Joel D. Richter, PhD, professor of molecular medicine
    Structural Understanding of Ribosome Dysregulation in Neurological Diseases (renewal)
  • Dorothy P. Schafer, PhD, assistant professor of neurobiology, and Jean A. Frazier, MD, the Robert M. and Shirley S. Siff Chair in Autism, professor of psychiatry and executive director of the E. K. Shriver Center
    Human-derived Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells (PBMCs) to Study Microglial Cells in the Context of Autism Spectrum Disorder