The Centers of Excellence program in muscular dystrophy research was established by NIH in 2003, in honor of the late Senator Paul D. Wellstone of Minnesota. Established as part of the NIH enhancement and intensification of muscular dystrophy research associated with the MD-CARE Act, the centers are supported by five-year, renewable grants. The following NIH Institutes participate in the Wellstone Centers Program:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
The Muscular Dystrophy Community Assistance, Research, and Education Amendments of 2001 ("MD-CARE Act"; P.L. 107-84) authorized the establishment of the Muscular Dystrophy Coordinating Committee (MDCC) to coordinate activities across NIH and with other Federal health programs and activities relevant to the various forms of muscular dystrophy. The MD-CARE Act directed the Committee to develop a plan for conducting and supporting research and education on muscular dystrophy through the national research institutes, and to submit this plan to Congress within the first year of the establishment of the MDCC. The MDCC has conducted two stages of planning. The first stage led to the Muscular Dystrophy Research and Education Plan for NIH, which was submitted to Congress in August 2004. This formed the basis for a subsequent, more intensive planning process that produced the MDCC Action Plan for the Muscular Dystrophies (approved by the MDCC in December 2005). The Action Plan contains specific research objectives that are appropriate to the missions of all MDCC member agencies and organizations and thus serves as a central focus for coordination of research in muscular dystrophy.