Sports and science team up to honor emerging medical researchers at annual celebration modeled after NFL Draft
Uplifting Athletes, a nonprofit organization serving the Rare Disease Community, awarded $140,000 in medical research grants at its Young Investigator Draft Presented by CSL Behring. Seven promising young researchers, including The Jackson Laboratory’s (JAX) Timothy Hines, received unrestricted $20,000 grants to support their vital work in finding new treatments—and potentially cures—for the one in 10 Americans with a rare disease. Grant recipients were revealed live and announced by current players from the National Football League who have been engaged with Uplifting Athletes since college.
is a postdoctoral associate of Professor Robert Burgess, Ph.D., where he researches the mechanisms underlying neuromuscular diseases, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, by utilizing mouse and human cell-based models. JAX, an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution, has a robust rare disease research program including a The Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association, which with the Burgess lab, nominated JAX’s Timothy Hines’ for the award.
“Our Young Investigator Draft shines a spotlight on the critical need for rare disease research and honors researchers who are making an impact,” said Rob Long, executive director, Uplifting Athletes. “We believe these all-star scientists deserve to be lauded with the same excitement and fanfare afforded to college and professional athletes, many of whom partner closely with us to leverage their own platforms to support our mission.”
The Young Investigator Draft is inspired by the NFL Draft, but shifts the focus from the selection of emerging talent on the football field to recognizing the next generation of promising researchers. The draft is one of several signature initiatives created by Uplifting Athletes to raise awareness and research funding for rare diseases. This year’s celebration was held virtually and streamed live across Uplifting Athletes’ social media channels.
The 2021 Draft Class was announced by seven NFL players who have continued to support Uplifting Athletes’ mission since their college experience with the nonprofit. Presenters included Ryan Bates (Penn State/Buffalo Bills), Shaun Bradley (Temple/Philadelphia Eagles), Joe Charlton (South Carolina/Carolina Panthers), Brandon Copeland (Penn/Atlanta Falcons), John Lovett (Princeton/Green Bay Packers), Riley Dixon (Syracuse/New York Giants), and Trace McSorley (Penn State/Baltimore Ravens).
Since its inception in 2018, the Young Investigator Draft has awarded more than $440,000 in grant funding to 25 rare disease researchers across North America. CSL Behring has served as the event’s title sponsor since year one.