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Kissick Family Foundation, Milken Institute Announce $2.5 Million in Funding for Dementia Research

News Release
Kissick Family Foundation, Milken Institute Announce $2.5 Million in Funding for Dementia Research
Grants focus on frontotemporal dementia, an underrecognized neurodegenerative disease

WASHINGTON, DC (November 14, 2023) — The Kissick Family Foundation Frontotemporal Dementia Grant Program, in partnership with the Milken Institute, launched its first-ever request for funding proposals today. Up to $2.5 million in total funding will be made available to researchers from around the world whose work aims to increase scientific understanding of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). The program is accepting applications for two-year research projects and intends to award three to five grants to doctorate-level investigators at qualifying research-based institutions worldwide. 

FTD refers to a family of neurodegenerative conditions that cause changes in behavior, mood, executive function, language, memory, and motor function. Worldwide estimates suggest that as many as 1.5 million people live with FTD. The true prevalence is likely higher, given that diagnoses and treatment are hindered by a general lack of awareness and the complex nature of the disease.

“Learning that John, our father and husband, was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia was a devastating moment for our family,” Kathy, Ryan, and Kasey Kissick wrote in the Milken Institute’s Frontotemporal Dementia: A Giving Smarter Guide. “We hope that, with this funding, other families’ experiences will start differently, be informed by a deeper understanding of the causes of sporadic FTD, and hopefully involve treatment options or cures.”

The Kissick Family Foundation partnered with MI Philanthropy’s Science and Health team in 2022 to analyze the funding landscape and summarize the current state of FTD research. Using the data and insights from this analysis, the Kissick Family Foundation aims to make investments in research that accelerate basic discoveries, expedite novel treatment options, and improve patient outcomes for people living with FTD. A broad range of projects are responsive to this call, but all must focus on sporadic forms of FTD with fundamental or early-stage translational research. MI Philanthropy will continue to provide the Kissick Family Foundation with strategic input as it moves to select awardees in spring 2024.

This funding announcement is released together with Frontotemporal Dementia: A Giving Smarter Guide. The guide provides an in-depth analysis of the current state of FTD research and investment and recommends areas where infusions of capital would accelerate progress and meaningfully enrich the overall landscape.

“Brain research is notoriously difficult and underfunded,” said Cara Altimus, PhD, senior director, MI Philanthropy. “FTD is the most common form of dementia in people under 60, but it still lags other dementias in terms of federal funding. Targeted funding programs are accelerating our understanding of the brain, and with the right support, FTD researchers will be able to pursue research that can reverberate through all neurodegenerative diseases.”

“The Kissick family’s investment has tremendous potential to impact the FTD research field,” said Bruce Miller, MD, director of the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco and science advisory board member for this initiative. “Their remarkable generosity brings new hope for patients with FTD by supporting better ways to diagnose and treat this condition. It brings us closer to the day when FTD will be preventable. The family’s foundation offers researchers the space to make discoveries that will influence the field forever.”

One-page letters of intent are being accepted through December 12, 2023. Individual researchers are eligible for up to $500,000 in funding over two years, inclusive of indirect costs. Projects may be eligible for a third year of funding depending on the justification. Awardees for this funding cycle should expect to be notified in May 2024.

Media Contact

Chad Clinton
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About the Kissick Family Foundation

Founded in 1996 by John Kissick, the Kissick Family Foundation aims to make a meaningful impact on some of today’s most pressing issues. The foundation supports innovators working tirelessly to confront and hopefully cure the devastating impacts of frontotemporal dementia. Equally important to the family, the foundation supports bold approaches to transform the health of our natural environments, specifically oceans and the trajectory of global warming. Across both categories, the foundation focuses on solutions currently overlooked by most funding and policymaking and seeks to take risks where others may not.

About the Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank focused on accelerating measurable progress on the path to a meaningful life. With a focus on financial, physical, mental, and environmental health, we bring together the best ideas and innovative resourcing to develop blueprints for tackling some of our most critical global issues through the lens of what’s pressing now and what’s coming next.

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